Dubai – More than 400 people lost their lives due to a powerful earthquake that shook the Iran-Iraq border late Sunday, according to media reports.
The Baghdad government did not immediately give word on casualties in that country, though Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi issued a directive for the country’s civil defense teams and “related institutions” to respond to the natural disaster.
The magnitude 7.3 quake was centered 19 miles (31 kilometers) outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja, according to the most recent measurements from the US Geological Survey. It struck at a depth of 23.2 kilometers (14.4 miles), a shallow depth that can have broader damage.
The quake was felt as far west as the Mediterranean coast. Its worst damage appeared to be in Iran’s western Kermanshah province, which sits in the Zagros Mountains that divide Iran and Iraq. Residents in the rural area rely mainly on farming to make a living.
The electricity 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.
“The night has made it difficult for helicopters to fly to the affected areas and some roads are also cut off… we are worried about remote villages,” Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said in an interview on state television.
Many houses in rural parts of the province are made of mud bricks and are known to crumble easily in quake-prone Iran.
Local people said in media reports and on Twitter they had felt several aftershocks. Television said schools were closed in Kermanshah and Ilam provinces on Monday.
UAE feels the tremors
Late Sunday, a couple of UAE residents in their social media post said that they have felt some tremors corresponding to an earthquake.
According to multiple users on Twitter, they felt the ground trembling for a brief period and are asking if others have also experienced it. Users from several parts of the country say that the tremors were felt not only in Dubai, but also in the Reem Island district of Abu Dhabi. – firstname.lastname@example.org