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348 dead, 6600 injured as magnitude 7.3 earthquake strikes Iran

 
Hundreds dead as 7.3 earthquake strikes Iran, Iraq
At least 348 people died and more than 6600 others  suffered injuries in a powerful magnitude 7.3 earthquake that struck the mountainous Kermanshah province of western Iran and adjoining areas of eastern Iraq late last night, official sources said.
 
"The 7.3-magnitude earthquake in Kermanshah Province, western Iran has so far claimed the lives of 348 people and injured 6.603 more," Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) said.
 
Officials said the number of casualties could rise when rescue teams managed to reach remote villages in the affected areas.
 
Preceded by three smaller jolts, the earthquake occurred at 2148 hours localtime (1818 hours GMT) on Sunday night near the Iran-Iraq border.
 
The epicentre of the quake was registered at latitude 34.86 degrees N and longitude 45.9 degrees E at a focal depth of 11 km in the Ozgoleh region in Kermanshah province.
 
The tremors were felt as far away as in the Gulf States of Qatar and Kuwait in the south, Palestine and Israel in the west and Turkey and Armenia in the north.
 
The worst damage was caused in the cities Kermanshah, Qasr-e Shirin and Sarpol-e Zahab, about 15 km from the Iraqi border, the report said.
 
Soon after reports of the earthquake were received, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani, First Vice-President Eshaq Janhangiri and Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli  issued messages expressing condolences to the families of the deceased and directed the local authorities to take swift search, rescue and relief measures in the affected areas.
 
Dozens of rescue and relief teams have rushed to the quake-hit areas and are searching for survivors under the debris of collapsed buildings. The lack of power supply and the mountainous terror posed difficulties during the early hours after the quake last night, but the operations picked up pace this morning, the reports said.
 
Relief camps have been set up in Kermanshah and neighbouring areas to accomodate the afflicted people.
 
Electricity and water supply to the area was cut off and the fear of aftershocks kept thousands of people in the open in the cold weather. Several roads in the region were blocked.
 
Sitting on several major fault lines, Iran is one the most seismically active countries in the world and prone to near daily quakes. In 2003, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake killed 26,000 people in Bam in southeastern Iran and flattened the historic city. In August 2012, an earthquake killed more than 250 people in East Azerbaijan Province, northwestern Iran.
 
Condolence messages were received from world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
 
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a visit to the Philippines, also condoled the loss of lives in the earthquake in Iran and Iraq.
 
“My thoughts are with all those who have lost their loved ones in the tragic earthquake that has affected parts of Iran and Iraq. I pray that those injured recover at the earliest," Mr. Modi said.
 
NNN
 
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