A 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck 19 miles south of  the Iraqi city of Halabja on Sunday. It hit the northern border region between Iran and Iraq, killing and injuring people on both sides.

The head of Iran’s medical services, Pirhossein Koulivand reported that over 300 people were killed and about 4,000 injured in Iran. No reports were immediately available from the Iraqi government, but Iranian state TV reported that at least seven people were killed on the Iraqi side, with 50 people injured in the Sulaymaniyuh province and about 150 in Khanaquin city.

The earthquake has also reportedly left Iran’s western cities of Mehran and Ilam without electricity. According to Koulivand, about 35 rescue teams are providing assistance. Iranian ILNA news agency has reported that at least 14 provinces in Iran have been affected by the earthquake, and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has called for “maximum effort” from officials.

The area is prone to earthquakes, as it sits on multiple major fault lines. Many high-magnitude earthquakes have struck that region before, including a 6.6 magnitude earthquake that killed 26,000 in 2003 and a 7.4 that killed 20,000 in 1978. As for this quake, the Iraqi Meteorological and Seismology Organization has warned the country to brace for another in the coming hours.

Photo: Reuters 

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