A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake struck the Iraq-Iran border region Sunday, killing more than 300 people in both countries, authorities reported.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter was 19 miles outside the Iraqi city of Halabja. The semi-official Iranian ILNA news agency reported at least 14 provinces were impacted by the quake. Several thousand were reported injured.
Faramarz Akbari, a local official in the Iranian border city of Ghasr-e Shirin, reported the death toll to Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency.
Iranian social media was abuzz with posts of people evacuating their homes, especially from the cities of Ghasr-e Shirin and Kermanshah. The earthquake struck in a rural, mountainous region where residents rely mainly on farming to make a living.
Esmail Najar, head of Iran’s National Disaster Management Organization, said “some injured people might be buried under the rubble in Ghasr-e Shirin.”
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, offered his condolences Monday and urged all government agencies to do all they could to help those affected.
Iran is prone to near daily quakes as it sits on many major fault lines. In 2003, a magnitude-6.6 earthquake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.