Over 140 people were killed on Sunday night in Iran and Iraq and over a thousand injured as a 7.3-earthquake hit the border region.
Iran’s Press TV quoted the Kermanshah deputy governor saying that 129 people were killed in the province alone and that over 900 people had been injured.
But other officials said the exact number of casualties would not be available for several hours, stating there were still people under the rubble from collapsed buildings.
No reports on the number of casualties were immediately available from the Iraqi government.
Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency said Sunday that the death toll in the powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake along the borders of Iran and Iraq has risen above 140.
According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the epicentre of the tremor was about 103 kilometres southeast of the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah and 31 kilometres outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja.
Press TV reported that in Iraq, the most extensive damage was in the town of Darbandikhan, 75 kilometres east of the city of Sulaimaniyah in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region, and in Iran Kermanshah was hit the hardest.
According to Kurdish Health Minister Rekawt Hama Rasheed, over 30 people were wounded in the town. He said, “The situation there is very critical.”
According to reports, the quake and its aftershocks have been felt in many Iranian provinces, including Kordestan, Kermanshah, Ilam, Khuzestan, Hamedan, West Azarbaijan, East Azarbaijan, Lorestan, Tehran, Qazvin, Zanjan and Qom.
A number of aftershocks, including two 4.9- and 4-magnitude ones, followed the seismic, which hit near Iraq’s border with Iran’s western Kermanshah province.
The quake was also felt in other regional countries such as Turkey, Kuwait, Armenia, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Bahrain.
Iran sits on many major fault lines and is prone to quakes. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.