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Earthquake kills over 400 in Iran, Iraq
Chris D Swabb / Shutterstock.com
At a magnitude of 7.3, according to a preliminary survey by the United States Geological Survey, the deadliest earthquake of 2017 hit the Iran-Iraq border late on Sunday, killing more than 400 and injuring over 7,200.
Most of the casualties took place on the Iranian side of the border; eight were found dead and at least 535 were injured in Iraq. Crews are currently searching for more survivors.
The earthquake, which some said could be felt as far away as Israel and Baghdad, was centered about 20 miles southwest of the Iraqi city of Halabja, close to the Iraq-Iran border. The quake struck around 9:48 p.m. local time on Sunday, followed by more than 100 aftershocks.
Aid is reportedly being sent to the area from surrounding countries like Turkey, but many roads are inaccessible and some hospitals have toppled to the ground.
While death toll continues to climb, one local activist told reporters:
The death tolls do not include casualties in remote villages in mountainous areas yet, where access is difficult and electricity and phones have been cut off.
Helicopters have managed to reach some villages where not even one home has remained and have given people food and blankets. No one knows how many have died.
The head of Iranian Red Crescent, a local relief group, told NBC that “more than 70,000 people were in need of emergency shelter.”
According to The New York Times, Iran, which lies on “dozens of fault lines,” is particularly prone to earthquakes.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, offered his condolences and told rescue workers on Monday to continue their search. He said:
The officials should hasten in these first hours with all their might and determination to help the injured, especially those trapped under the rubble.
The Times reported that the rescue mission was nearly complete by Sunday evening, however.
One resident of Pol-e Zahab, a western Iranian city that was hit hard by the quake, wrote on Twitter: “My friend was screaming, saying, ‘I lost my home.'” She continued:
Thank God, she and her family are doing well. She said people were only mourning and their loved ones were under the rubble.
Authorities believe that at least 236 people were killed in Pol-e Zahab alone, but residents say they aren’t getting much help from the government.
There has been no help yet, neither food nor water, no clothing, no tents, there is nothing. There are no facilities yet. We’ve slept outside since last night. This is the condition of our homes. Our electricity, water, gas, phone lines are out, everything is completely out, the whole city has been destroyed, it is wrecked.
This resident’s pain will be felt by many: with more than 70,000 displaced from the quake, many in areas that get exceptionally cold at night, it is likely that the lack of heat and a means for cooking food will cause the death toll to continue rising.
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