Update: According to latest official tallies, 395 Iranians were confirmed dead as of Monday afternoon. Over 6,650 others were also injured.
Rescue workers and desperate relatives dug through debris in a search for
survivors after a powerful earthquake near the Iran-Iraq border killed more than
320 people and injured at least 2,500.
Iran's Interior Ministry said on November 13 that most of the casualties were in Kermanshah Province, with residents reporting feeling the 7.3 magnitude quake throughout the region, from Turkey to Kuwait.
In Iraq, officials said at least seven people were killed and more than 320
others injured on the Iraqi side as a result of the quake.
Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan said that all the casualties were in the northern Kurdish region.
U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered 32 kilometers southwest
of the city of Halabja in northeastern Iraq at a depth of 33.9 kilometers.
Tehran University's seismological center said the quake struck at 9:48 p.m. local time on November 12.
"The house shook vigorously and everything was falling from shelves. People were shocked. Many took into their cars and drove away," said Suma Saffari, a resident of Sanandaj in Iran's Kurdistan Province.
"There are many people in the streets. Many windows are shattered, homes are damaged," Saffari said.
Iran's official IRNA news agency quoted officials as warning that the casualty
toll was expected to rise after emergency workers began work early on November
The town of Sarpol-e Zahab, about 15 kilometers from the Iraq border, was one of the hardest hit, with dozens of people killed, the reports said.
Survivors "are now looking for their belongings, for their loved ones under the
rubble," an eyewitness says in the narration of a video he said he shot in
The man, who did not identify himself, said that soldiers without equipment were struggling to aid rescue efforts.
The soldiers "are completely empty-handed," he said. "They don't even have masks and gloves, so it's useless."
Officials said the Iranian border town of Ghasre Shirin was heavily damaged,
with rescue workers reporting that their efforts were being made difficult
because of power outages.
Mojtaba Nikkerdar, the provincial deputy governor, told state television there were deaths in at least 30 separate villages, but he said it would take hours before exact casualty numbers could be determined.
"There are still people under the rubble. We hope the number of dead and injured won't rise too much, but it will rise," Nikkerdar said.
IRNA said water and electricity had been cut in some parts of Kermanshah
The semiofficial Iranian ILNA news agency reported that at least 14 provinces had been affected by the earthquake.
"The quake was felt in several Iranian provinces bordering Iraq...Eight villages were damaged...Electricity has been cut in some villages and rescue teams have been dispatched to those areas," state TV reported.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on government agencies and
rescuers to do all they could to help those affected, according to state media.
News agencies reported that Iranian President Hassan Rohani had called on the Interior Ministry to make a maximum effort to aid victims.
Iraqi news agencies showed photos of crumbled buildings in around the city of Sulaimaniya in the Kurdistan region, saying at least 50 people had been injured in the town of Darbandikhan.
The quake was felt in the Iranian capital, Tehran, and in the Iraqi capital,
Residents of southwest Turkey, Israel, and Kuwait also said they had felt the temblor.
Iran is on many major fault lines and is often hit by damaging earthquakes. In 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake destroyed the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.
With reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Farda, Reuters, AP, CNN, dpa, IRNA, Iraqi News, The New York Times, and ILNA
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