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Earthquake on Iran-Iraq Border Kills 400

  • Ken Schwartz

A damaged building is seen following an earthquake in Sarpol-e Zahab county in Kermanshah, Iran, Nov. 13, 2017.

Iran has declared an official day of mourning Tuesday for the victims of Sunday's powerful earthquake along the western mountainous border with Iraq.

The 7.3-magnitude quake and several strong aftershocks killed more than 400 people and left another 7,000 hurt. Iraqi officials report at least seven deaths there.

The U.S. Geological Survey said quake was centered just outside near the town of Halabja in Iraq's Kurdistan region and was felt as far away as Turkey and Israel.

A woman mourns as she holds the body of her daughter, who died in an earthquake, in Sarpol-e-Zahab, western Iran, Nov. 13, 2017.
A woman mourns as she holds the body of her daughter, who died in an earthquake, in Sarpol-e-Zahab, western Iran, Nov. 13, 2017.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameni, immediately sent government and military rescuers to the region.

Rescue teams along the Iran-Iraq border are using their hands to dig though the remains of collapsed houses. Body-sniffing dogs are looking for victims.

The World Health Organization has sent an emergency response team, including ambulances and surgical kits.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered his government's aid agencies to do whatever they can.

Most of the victims were in the Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab, in Iran's Kermanshah province.

Boys walk on the roof of a destroyed house after an earthquake in the city of Darbandikhan, northern Iraq, Nov. 13, 2017.
Boys walk on the roof of a destroyed house after an earthquake in the city of Darbandikhan, northern Iraq, Nov. 13, 2017.

The quake struck late Sunday evening while many villagers were finishing dinner or getting ready for bed. People grabbed whatever belongings they could and fled into the cold, spending the night huddled around fires in makeshift camps.

Iran sits on several major fault lines and its history is filled with numerous deadly earthquakes.

A 2003 quake in the southern city of Bam killed at least 26,000 people, while a 2012 quake in East Azerbaijan province killed more than 300.

VOA's Chris Hannas and Esha Sarai contributed to this report.

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