Tehran/Baghdad: At least 207 people were killed after a powerful earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale struck an area near the Iran-Iraq border, authorities confirmed on Monday.
Iranian Deputy Health Minister Qasem Jan Babaie told the media that the number of casualties was likely to rise, adding that at least 1,600 people were injured, reports Efe news.
Iran’s Press TV said the highest number of casualties in the country occurred in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab in Kermanshah province which reported 100 deaths.
Rescue teams were continuing to search for survivors of the quake which struck at 9.20 p.m. on Sunday, near the town of Halabja in Iraqi Kurdistan, close to the northeastern border with Iran, at a depth of 33.9 km, according to the US Geological Survey.
Some 30 aftershocks, including some of magnitude-4.5, were felt in several Iranian provinces, including Kurdistan, Khuzestan, Hamedan, western and eastern Azerbaijan, and in capital Tehran.
Tremors were also felt in Turkey, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Armenia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.
Among the worst affected towns in Iran were Ghasr Shirin, Sarpul and Azgale, although it was still difficult to evaluate the extent of the destruction in the remote mountainous area, where roads and telephone lines have been damaged.
Meanwhile, Iraqi officials have confirmed that at least six people were killed and over 50 others injured in Darbandikhan town, Sulaimaniya province.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was closely following the situation of the country’s citizens, a statement from his office said.
Iran is one of the most seismically active countries in the world, being crossed by several major fault lines that cover at least 90 per cent of the country. As a result, destructive earthquakes in Iran occur constantly.
The deadliest quake in Iran’s modern history happened in June 1990. It destroyed the northern cities of Rudbar, Manjil, and Lushan, along with hundreds of villages, killing an estimated 37,000 people.
An earthquake in the city of Bam in December 2003 killed 26,000 people.