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Tuesday 14th
posted by Morning Star in World

Rural Kermanshah province bears the brunt of 7.3-magnitude natural disaster

OVER 400 people were reported dead yesterday after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake devastated the Iraq-Iran border area on Sunday night.

Iran’s western Kermanshah province — a rural, mountainous region where residents rely mainly on farming — bore the brunt of the quake, with authorities reporting that 407 citizens had perished with a further 6,700 injured.

In Iraq, at least seven people were killed and 535 injured, all in the country’s northern Kurdish region.

The epicentre was 19 miles outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja, which suffered 5,000 dead in a mustard gas attack in 1988 carried out by Saddam Hussein’s army but blamed for years on Iran for political reasons by the CIA.

It could be felt on the Mediterranean coast, 660 miles away, having struck 14.4 miles below the surface, a shallow depth that can amplify damage. More than 100 aftershocks followed.

The worst damage appeared to be in the town of Sarpol-e-Zahab in Kermanshah province, which sits in the Zagros Mountains that divide Iran and Iraq.

Sarpol-e-Zahab residents said that power and water services were out and telephone and mobile phone links were patchy.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered condolences yesterday morning, urging rescuers and government agencies to do all they could to help those affected.

President Hassan Rouhani is scheduled to tour earthquake-damaged areas today.

In Iraq, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued a directive for the country’s civil defence teams and “related institutions” to respond to the disaster.

Iraqi seismologist Abdul-Karim Abdullah Taqi, who runs the country’s earthquake monitoring group, said the main reason for the lower casualty figure in Iraq was the angle and direction of the fault line.

Iraqi geological formations were better able to absorb the shocks. However, there was visible damage to the dam at Darbandikhan, which holds back the Diyala river.

“There are horizontal and vertical cracks on the road and in the body of the dam, and parts of the dam sank lower,” said dam director Rahman Hani.

Turkey dispatched emergency aid to northern Iraq as officials expressed their “deep sadness” at the tragedy.