At least 207 people have been killed and 1,700 injured after a massive earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale struck west of Iran along the country’s border with Iraq on Sunday night.
Iranians, fighting time, hurried early Monday to dig out survivors trapped in dozens of collapsed buildings after the powerful earthquake rattled a large area in the heart of the Middle East on Sunday night.
The temblor, which the US Geological Survey (USGS) said hit close to Halabjah, southeast of Iraq’s Sulaymaniyah, has killed 207 Iranians as of Monday morning, and has injured more than 1,700 others.
Thousands of government and rescue workers have been mobilized by order of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, plunging into the rubble across the western cities and villages as local people are also helping clear debris.
Hospitals in the western cities of Eslamabad-e-Gharb, Sarpol-e-Zahab, and Qasre-e-Shirin are packed with the injured people as the death toll is expected to rise.
Soon after the quake occurred, Imam Khamenei issued a message calling on all Iranian officials and institutions to “rush to the aid of those affected in these early hours [after the incident].”
The Leader said the country’s entire range of capabilities had to be used swiftly to prevent a further rise in the death toll. Ayatollah Khamenei called on Iran’s Armed Forces to help with removing the rubble and transferring the injured to medical centers.
The earthquake was just about 25 km (15 miles) deep and was felt in Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Kuwait, Armenia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
In Iran, the quake struck hardest the area of Azgaleh in Kermanshah province. The closest cities in the area are Tazeabad, 25km and Bayangan, 37km away from the epicenter and the provincial capital city of Kermanshah is 122 km away.
Iran is one of the most seismically active countries in the world, being crossed by several major fault lines that cover at least 90% of the country. As a result, earthquakes in Iran occur often and are destructive.