At least 328 people have died in a huge 7.3 magnitude earthquake that has struck near the Iran/Iraq border – and been felt as far away as Turkey, Kuwait, Iran and the United Arab Emirates.
More than 320 people have been killed in Iran’s Kermanshah province on the Iraqi border, the provincial deputy governor told state television.
And more than 5,300 have been injured in the massive tremor.
“There are still people under the rubble. We hope the number of dead and injured won’t rise too much, but it will rise,” Mojtaba Nikkerdar said more than 60 of the victims were in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab, about 15 km (10 miles) from the border.
Kurdish health officials also said at least four people were killed in Iraq and there were 50 injured.
The earthquake struck along the border with Iran.
Images from Iran have showed buildings reduced to rubble – including one which collapsed on a car.
“The quake was felt in several Iranian provinces bordering Iraq … Eight villages were damaged … Electricity has been cut in some villages and rescue teams have been dispatched to those areas,” TV reported.
The tremors began at about 9.30 p.m. local time late on Sunday night in Iraq. Many residents in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, told of how they rushed out of their houses in panic.
“I was sitting with my kids having dinner and suddenly the building was just dancing in the air,” said Majida Ameer, who ran out of her building in the capital’s Salihiya district with her three children.
“I thought at first that it was a huge bomb. But then I heard everyone around me screaming: ‘Earthquake!'”
The earthquake hit 103 kms (64 miles) southeast of the city of As-Sulaymaniyah in Iraq, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The tremors began at about 9.30pm local time in Iraq.
Water and electricity lines were severed in some villages and cities in the Western Kermanshah province and communities stayed out on the streets because of the threat from aftershocks, a local Red Crescent official told TV.
Many houses in rural parts of the province are made of mud bricks, which have been known to crumble easily in quake-prone Iran.