7.3 magnitude earthquake jolts Iraq and Iran border, more than 200 dead

Hundreds of people have been killed and hundreds injured after a strong earthquake of 7.3 magnitude shook the Iran-Iraq border region on Sunday.

The US Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.3 temblor was centred 20 miles southwest of Halabja, near the northeastern border with Iran. At least 164 people were killed in Iran, Behnam Saeedi, a spokesman for Iran’s National Disaster Management Organisation, said on the state television. More than 1,650 were injured, he said.

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Officials expected the casualty toll to rise when search and rescue teams reached remote areas of Iran. The earthquake was felt in several provinces of Iran but the hardest hit province was Kermanshah, which announced three days of mourning.

More than 97 of the victims were in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab in Kermanshah, about 15 km (10 miles) from the Iraq border. The main hospital of the town was severely damaged and struggling to treat hundreds of injured people, state television reported.

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Kurdish health officials also said at least four people were killed in Iraq and at least 50 injured.