More than 140 people were killed and at least 860 others were hurt in a powerful earthquake on the Iran-Iraq border region Sunday, Iranian officials revealed.
The quake had a magnitude of 7.3, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced, as reports of serious structural damage started to emerge.
The Islamic Republic of Iran News Network quoted the head of the country’s emergency medical services, Pirhossein Koulivand, as saying more than 140 people had been killed and at least 860 injured on Iran’s side of the border. Iranian state TV also said Iraqi officials reported at least six people dead inside Iraq, along with more than 50 people injured in Sulaymaniyah province and about 150 in Khanaquin city. No reports were immediately available from Iraq’s government.
On its website, the USGS placed the quake’s epicenter at about 18.6 miles southwest of the Iraqi city of Halabja.
The USGS also issued an “orange” alert for “shaking-related fatalities and economic losses.”
“Significant casualties and damage are likely and the disaster is potentially widespread,” the agency said online. “Past orange alerts have required a regional or national level response.”
In Iraq, the quake destroyed old houses in Sadr City and triggered supermarket damage in the area. Traffic across Baghdad was slowed to a standstill.
The health department in Baquba, Iraq, said that it had received more than 30 fainting cases. In Khanaqin, the quake hurt five people and the minaret of one of the city’s biggest mosques toppled to the ground.
Koulivand earlier told a local television station that the earthquake knocked out electricity in Iran’s western cities of Mehran and Ilam. He also said 35 rescue teams were providing assistance. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a phone call with the Interior Ministry emphasized the need for maximum effort from officials.
The semi-official Iranian ILNA news agency said at least 14 provinces in Iran had been affected by the earthquake.
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.
Fox News’ Kadhum Hussein and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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