Tehran, Iran (BBN) – At least 140 people have been killed and 860 injured in a 7.3-magnitude earthquake which struck the border between Iran and northern Iraq, officials in Iran’s Kermanshah Province said early Monday.
The death toll is expected to rise as a spokesman for Iran’s Interior Ministry said rescue efforts in the mainly Kurdish region could only begin properly after sunrise, reports The New York Post.
The quake’s epicenter was in a remote mountainous region of Iraq, some 125 miles northeast of Baghdad and 250 miles west of Tehran, according to the US Geological Agency.
An aftershock of magnitude 4.5 was registered shortly after the quake struck late Sunday and was followed by another aftershock in the early hours of Monday measuring 4.7.
Rescue teams were sent to the Kermanshah town of Ghasre Shirin, which Iranian state media reported had suffered considerable damage after the quake struck, but they were being hampered by electricity outages.
Kurdish news agency Rudaw said the Iranian province of Illam was also hard hit and that Kurdish cities in Iraq such as Halabja, Erbil and Duhok were also affected. The Iraqi border cities of Halabja and Sulaymaniyah reportedly declared states of emergency.
Other media reports said the quake could be felt as far away as Kuwait and parts of Turkey.
Kurdistan24 news network reported that 16 people were taken to hospital with injuries in the Iraqi city of Kanaqin, while witnesses reported two deaths in the city of Kore in Erbil province. There was no official confirmation of these reports.
Turkey’s Health Ministry has offered aid for northern Iraq, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Aid agencies said they were on standby to help. “Our humanitarian team in Iraq is monitoring today’s earthquake and is on standby to respond,” The International Rescue Committee tweeted.