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Strong earthquake hits Iraq and Iran, killing more than 300

Updated: 2017-11-13 14:05

Strong earthquake hits Iraq and Iran, killing more than 300
People gather outdoor in Baghdad, Iraq, on Nov 12, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

NO SHELTER

Electricity and water was cut off in several Iranian and Iraqi cities, and fears of aftershocks sent thousands of people in both countries out onto the streets and parks in cold weather.

Across the area, thousands of rescue workers and special teams using sniffer dogs and heat sensors searched wreckage. Blocked roads made it hard for rescue workers to reach some remote villages.

Iranian authorities acknowledged the relief effort was still slow and patchy. The Iranian seismological centre registered around 153 aftershocks and said more were expected. More than 70,000 people needed emergency shelter, the head of Iranian Red Crescent said.

Hojjat Gharibian was one of hundreds of homeless Iranian survivors, who was huddled against the cold with his family in Qasr-e Shirin.

"My two children were sleeping when the house started to collapse because of the quake. I took them and ran to the street. We spent hours in the street until aid workers moved us into a school building," Gharibian told Reuters by telephone.

Iran's police, the elite Revolutionary Guards and its affiliated Basij militia forces were dispatched to the quake-hit areas overnight, state TV reported. President Hassan Rouhani is expected to visit the Kermanshah province, TV reported.

Iran sits astride major fault lines and is prone to frequent tremors. A magnitude 6.6 quake on Dec. 26, 2003, devastated the historic city of Bam, 1,000 km southeast of Tehran, killing about 31,000 people.

An Iranian oil official said pipelines and refineries in the area remained intact.

TURKEY AND ISRAEL

Residents of Turkey's southeastern city of Diyarbakir also reported feeling a strong tremor, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties there.

Turkish Red Crescent Chairman Kerem Kinik told broadcaster NTV that Red Crescent teams in Erbil were preparing to go to the site of the earthquake and that Turkey's national disaster management agency, AFAD, and National Medical Rescue Teams were also preparing to head into Iraq.

AFAD's chairman said the organisation was waiting for a reply to its offer for help.

In a tweet, Kinik said the Turkish Red Crescent was gathering 3,000 tents and heaters, 10,000 beds and blankets and moving them towards the Iraqi border.

"We are coordinating with Iranian and Iraqi Red Crescent groups. We are also getting prepared to make deliveries from our northern Iraq Erbil depot," he said.

Israeli media said the quake was felt in many parts of Israel as well. In a statement, Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said, "My condolences to the people of Iran and Iraq over the loss of human life caused by the earthquake." Iran refuses to recognise Israel.

Reuters

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