Earthquake on Iraq-Iran Border Kills Hundreds and Injures Thousands
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
A huge rescue effort is underway for survivors of a powerful earthquake that struck Iran’s mountainous border with Iraq on Sunday, killing more than 400 people and injuring over 7,000. The quake is the deadliest in the world this year, the BBC reports.
According to the BBC, most of the dead were located were in Sarpol-e-Zahab. This town is located 10 miles (15 km) from the border in western Iran and other parts of Kermanshah province.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck at 9:18 p.m. local time, which is 1:18 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The epicenter was located near the town of Halabjah in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.
Rescue teams worked through the night, looking for people trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings.
The Iranian Red Crescent said more than 70,000 people need emergency shelter. It is “difficult to send rescue teams to the villages because the roads have been cut off…there have been landslides,” said Iran’s emergency services chief Pir Hossein Koolivand, according to the Al-Jazeera news agency.
Some cities now have no running water or electricity.
The most extensive damage was in the town of Darbandikhan, in the southern Sulamaniyah province.
30 Red Cross Teams Have Been Sent to the Quake Zone
The Iraqi news agency IRNA said 30 Red Cross teams have been sent to the quake zone, Al-Jazeera noted.
Iraqi state TV reported that Sarpol-e-Zahab’s main hospital was severely damaged and was struggling to treat hundreds of wounded, according to the BBC. Many homes in the predominantly Kurdish mountainous area are made of mud bricks and are vulnerable in quakes as large as Sunday’s.
Multiple Aftershocks Send People Fleeing from Their Homes
The earthquake was followed by multiple aftershocks that sent people fleeing from their homes overnight in cold weather. The aftershocks were felt as far away as Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Al-Jazeera reported on Monday.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has directed health and aid agencies to do whatever they can to provide assistance, the Voice of America reported. “We will do everything possible to help them. Wishing safety and security for all our people,” al-Abadi wrote on Twitter.
Iran sits on several major fault lines and has been hit by multiple deadly earthquakes in the past. A 2003 quake in the southern city of Bam killed at least 26,000 people, while a 2012 quake in East Azerbaijan province killed more than 300, VOA said.