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Iraq-Iran earthquake: Deadly tremor hits border region

A damaged storefront is seen after an earthquake in Halabja, IraqImage copyright Reuters
Image caption A damaged storefront in Halabja, Iraq, near the epicentre of the quake

A strong 7.3-magnitude earthquake has rattled the northern border region between Iran and Iraq, killing scores.

At least 61 people were killed and 300 injured in western Iran, state media said, with four more reported dead in Iraq. The death toll is likely to rise.

The earthquake sparked panic, with residents fleeing their homes for the streets.

Mosques in the Iraqi capital Baghdad have been saying prayers through loudspeakers.

Many of the victims were in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab, about 15km (10 miles) from the border, Iran’s emergency services chief, Pir Hossein Koolivand, said, according to Iranian state television channel IRINN.

Damage was reported in at least eight villages, the head of Iran’s Red Crescent Organisation, Morteza Salim, told the channel.

“Some other villages have suffered power cuts and their telecommunications system has also been disturbed,” he said.

Image caption Many Baghdad residents left their houses for the streets when the quake struck

Rescue teams were being hampered by landslides, Mr Koolivand said.

The quake hit 19 miles (30km) southwest of Halabja, near the northeastern border with Iran, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The occurred at a depth of 33.9 km (21 miles), and tremors were felt in Turkey, Israel and Kuwait.

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