TEHRAN – At least three hundred ninety-six people were killed and over seven thousand injured in Iran and Iraq when a seven point three magnitude earthquake struck the region last night.
According to state media of the two countries, rescuers are searching for those still trapped under rubble.
The earthquake shook several provinces of Iran but the hardest hit province was Kermanshah in the Zagros Mountains that divide Iran and Iraq.
More than two hundred thirty of the victims were in Sarpol-e Zahab town of Iran which has a population of thirty thousand.
An Iranian aid agency said seventy thousand people need shelter after the quake.
In Iraq, Kurdish health officials said at least four people were killed and fifty injured in the quake.
According to Iraqi officials, five people were killed and more than 30 people were injured as the result of the natural disaster in Sulaimaniyah province.
The most extensive damage was reported on Iraqi side in the town of Darbandikhan, 75 kilometres away from Iranian province Sulaimaniyah in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region.
According to reports, the quake hit the region at 9:20pm on Sunday and its tremors were felt around 350km away in Baghdad. Other regional countries including Turkey, Kuwait, Armenia, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Bahrain also received aftershocks.
The US Geological Survey measured the magnitude at 7.3, while an Iraqi meteorology official found it 6.5 with the epicentre in Penjwin in Sulaimaniyah province near Iran border.
Following the quake, the electricity was cut off in many cities of Iran and Iraq, while several peoples came out from their houses and offices in cold weather with the fears of aftershocks .
The Guardian News quoted Iranian interior minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli as, “The night has made it difficult for helicopters to fly to the affected areas and some roads are also cut off… we are worried about remote villages”.
In 1990, a 7.4-magnitude quake near the Caspian Sea in northern Iran killed 40,000 people and left 300,000 more injured and half a million homeless. Within seconds the quake wiped out dozens of towns and nearly 2,000 villages.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his condolences over the incident.
Tragic news from Iran and Iraq today. Canadians offer their deepest sympathies to the families affected by the earthquake in the region.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) November 13, 2017