More than 400 dead in Iraq-Iran border earthquake

By Julie Gargotta, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, November 13, 2017, 11:12 AM EST

A powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake that struck the Iraq-Iran border region killed more than 400 people across both countries, sent people fleeing their homes into the night and was felt as far away as the Mediterranean coast, authorities reported on Monday.

  • Powerful 7.3 quake felt as far as Turkey, Israel
  • Iran got the worst of the quake, with hunreds killed

Iran’s western Kermanshah province bore the brunt of the temblor Sunday night, with authorities saying the quake killed 407 people in the country and injured 6,700. Kermanshah is a rural, mountainous region where residents rely mainly on farming.

In Iraq, the earthquake killed at least seven people and injured 535, all in the country’s northern Kurdish region, according to Iraq’s Interior Ministry.

The epicenter of the quake near the city of Halabjah, roughly 200 miles away from Iraq's capital of Baghdad. News outlets reports that the tremors were felt as far as Turkey and Israel.

The earthquake struck 23.2 kilometers (14.4 miles) below the surface, a shallow depth that can have broader damage. Magnitude 7 earthquakes on their own are capable of widespread, heavy damage.

The quake’s worst damage appeared to be in the town of Sarpol-e-Zahab in Kermanshah province, which sits in the Zagros Mountains that divide Iran and Iraq.

Kokab Fard, a 49-year-old housewife in Sarpol-e-Zahab, said she could only flee empty-handed when her apartment complex collapsed.

“Immediately after I managed to get out, the building collapsed,” Fard said. “I have no access to my belongings.”

Online, this incident is trending, as more than 100,000 people have tweeted about the Iran-Iraq quake, sharing images of destruction and their condolences for victims.

Now, a frenzied search for survivors is underway. The President of the Italian Red Cross, Francesco Rocca, shared photos of volunteers from the Iranian Red Crescent Society, a relief organization, sifting through rubble.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Geological Survey lends additional perspective. In the last 100 years, the region has experienced four other magnitude 6-plus earthquakes. A 1990 earthquake of a similar size caused between 40,000 and 50,000 fatalities.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.