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Earthquake claimed at least 400 lives in Iran and Iraq

Farshid Tighehsaz | ISNA | AFP
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Quake could be felt as far as Israel

More than 400 people are reported dead and thousands injured as a strong earthquake hit near the mountainous border between Iraq and Iran Sunday.

The epicenter was near Ezgeleh, an Iranian town about 135 miles northeast of Baghdad, the New York Times reported. The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.3, according to the United States Geological Survey.

Most of the deaths occurred on the Iranian side of the border, in an area inhabited by Kurds. Nearly 6,000 people were injured, according to the state news agency IRNA. Iran’s state-run media Press TV reported Monday that at least 402 people were killed and 6,650 people were injured in the quake, according to CNN.

Particularly hard hit was a town of 30,000, Sarpol-e Zahab, which lost at least 236 people.

More than 70,000 people needed emergency shelter, the head of Iranian Red Crescent said.

In Iraq, at least eight were killed and at least 535 hurt, according to the Health Ministry.

The earthquake was felt as far as the coast of Israel.

Reuters said that 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, the wire service said.

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