Staff writer, SF
An earthquake has struck Iran and Iraq killing hundreds of people. The earthquake measured 7.3 and is the strongest to hit the region in several years. More than 4,500 people have been injured.
Many of the reports from Iran indicate that more than three hundred people have died there and the semi-official ISNA news agency is saying the number is 328. Reports from the Ministry of Health in the Kurdistan region say that eight people in Iraq have died – one in the Diyala province and seven in Kurdistan. The Iraqi health ministry also said that there have been 535 people injured.
According to numerous reports, Kermanshah is the region that has been affected the most in Iran. In one single town, Sarpol-e Zahab, there have been over 140 victims. The town is located approximately a dozen miles away from the Iraqi border and the main hospital in the area has been very badly damaged.
Several cities across both Iran and Iraq were deprived of electricity.
Thousands of people poured out into the streets in fear of aftershocks. Many of these people braved the cold weather conditions and took refuge in parks and streets.
A seismological centre in Iran reported that there were 188 aftershocks and tremors were felt in Israel and Turkey.
The Iranian Red Crescent Society has said that there are over 70,000 people who require emergency shelter, according to numerous reports.
Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, the Interior Minister of Iran, said that the darkness has made it difficult for helicopters to attend the areas that need the most help. He also said that some roads have been cut off as a result of the earthquake, leaving there much concern for remote villages.
Rescue work continued through the night and would pick up pace when the sun started to rise. It is understood that at least 14 of the provinces in Iran have been dealing with the consequences of the earthquake.
There are countless stories and images circulating on social media showing the extent of the powerful earthquake. Many people have recounted their own personal experience and have posted pictures of the damage to buildings.
An international correspondent form NPR, Jane Arraf, reported from Erbil, a city in the northern part of Iraq. She said that dozens of people there had to be transferred to the hospital for immediate medical attention. Arraf spoke about the state of panic at the time, saying that as the buildings were continuing to shake, people rushed out of their houses as quickly as possible to the street.
The journalist said that people living close to the Diyala River were ordered to leave the area for fears over the safety of the Darbandikhan dam which may have been damaged. Engineers are currently assessing for structural changes. It is thought that the Mosul dam escaped damage.
Experts say that the earthquake’s epicentre was approximately 450 miles west of Tehran and 150 miles northeast of Baghdad. However, tremors were felt in both of the capital cities.