Huge earthquake kills hundreds near Iraq-Iran border
A 7.3 magnitude earthquake that struck near the Iraq-Iran border has killed at least 300 people and injured over a thousand others, according to reports from state television agencies.
Iran's semi-official Fars news agency quoted the head of the country's emergency services as saying that at least 326 people had been killed and around 1,000 others injured in Iran's western province of Kermanshah.
An earlier report by another state-owned agency had placed the death toll at 100.
Iranian state television also quoted Iraqi officials as saying that at least six people had been killed in the neighbouring country. The officials added that over 50 people had been injured in Iraqi Kurdistan's Sulaymaniyah province and around 150 in Knaquin city.
Tremors were reportedly felt as far away as the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
According to the US Geological survey, the earthquake's epicentre was around 20 miles southwest of the Iraqi city of Halabjah. Iranian authorities, meanwhile, said a 7.3 magnitude earthquake had hit Azgaleh city in Kermanshah.
The USGS issued an "orange," warning of possible "shaking-related fatalities and economic losses."
It is feared that the number of casualties will rise as emergency services sift through the disaster zones, especially in rural areas where many live in non-sturdy mud brick houses.
Esmail Najar, head of Iran's National Disaster Management Organization, warned that "some injured people might be buried under the rubble in Ghasr-e Shirin".
Earthquake are an almost daily occurrence in Iran, which sits on many of the earth's major fault lines.
Last month, a 5.2-magnitude earthquake jolted Iran's southern Kerman province, however no casualties were reported.
In 2003, around 26,000 people were killed in the city of Bam, which was levelled by a 6.6 magnitude earthquake.