Powerful earthquake with 7.3 magnitude has killed more than 400 people in the once-contested mountainous border region between Iraq and Iran.
The worst damage appeared to be in the Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah, which sits in the Zagros Mountains that divide Iran and Iraq.
Residents fled into the streets as the quake struck, without time to grab their possessions, as apartment complexes collapsed into rubble. Outside walls of some complexes were sheared off by the quake, power and water lines were severed, and telephone service was disrupted.
Residents dug frantically through wrecked buildings for survivors as they wailed. Firefighters from Tehran joined other rescuers in the desperate search, using dogs to inspect the rubble.
Army set up field hospitals, although many of the injured were moved to other cities, including Tehran.
Reports say that it also damaged an army garrison and buildings in the border city and killed an unspecified number of soldiers.
The quake killed 407 people in Iran and injured 7,156 others, Iran’s crisis management headquarters spokesman Behnam Saeedi told state TV. Most of the injuries were minor, he said, with fewer than 1,000 still hospitalized.
Acc. to the interior ministry, in Iraq, the earthquake killed at least seven people and injured 535 others, all in the country’s northern, semi autonomous Kurdish region.
The earthquake struck 14.4 miles (23.2 kilometres) below the surface, a shallow depth that can have broader damage.
The quake caused Dubai’s skyscrapers to sway and could be felt 1,060 kilometres (660 miles) away on the Mediterranean coast. Nearly 120 aftershocks followed.
Iran sits on many major fault lines and is prone to near-daily quakes. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people. The last major casualty earthquake in Iran struck in East Azerbaijan province in August 2012, killing over 300.