NGDIR News Section-- Rescuers battle to find survivors trapped under collapsed buildings after the 7.3 magnitude quake.
More than 210 people have been killed in Iran and Iraq after a magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit the border region between the two countries, state media said.
At least 207 people have died in Iran, a spokesman for the country's disaster agency state television, after the powerful quake struck the country's western provinces at 9.20pm local time on Sunday. More than 1,700 were injured, Behnam Saeedi said.
Officials in Iraq reported that at least six people had died and 50 injured.
The US Geological Survey said the quake measured magnitude 7.3, while an Iraqi meteorology official put its magnitude at 6.5 with the epicentre in Penjwin in Sulaimaniyah province in the Kurdistan region close to the main border crossing with Iran. It struck 23.2km below the surface, a shallow depth that can have broader damage.
Rescuers worked through the night to find people trapped in collapsed buildings in towns affected by the quake, which was felt as far west as Israel and south to Baghdad.
The deputy governor of the Iranian border province of Kermanshah told state television that the death toll would rise.
"There are still people under the rubble. We hope the number of dead and injured won't rise too much, but it will rise," Mojtaba Nikkerdar said.
At least 142 people have died in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab, about 15km (10 miles) from the border. The main hospital of the town was severely damaged and struggling to treat hundreds of injured people, state television reported.
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 Iranian seismological centre registered around 50 aftershocks and said more were expected. The head of Iranian Red Crescent said more than 70,000 people were in need of emergency shelter.
Iranian interior minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said some roads were blocked and there was concern about casualties in remote villages. The Iranian armed forces have been deployed to help the emergency services.
On the Iraqi side, the most extensive damage was in the town of Darbandikhan, 75km east of the city of Sulaimaniyah in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, where the mayor told AFP that four people had died.
A child and an elderly person were killed in Kalar, according to the director of the hospital in the town about 70km south of Darbandikhan, and 105 people injured, AFP said.
Kurdish health minister Rekawt Hama Rasheed told Reuters the situation in Darbandikhan was "very critical". The district's main hospital was severely damaged and had no power, Rasheed said, so the injured were being taken to Sulaimaniyah for treatment. There was extensive structural damage to buildings and homes.
In Halabja, local officials said a 12-year-old boy died from an electric shock when an electric cable fell during the earthquake.
Many residents in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, rushed out of houses and tall buildings in panic.
"I was sitting with my kids having dinner and suddenly the building was just dancing in the air," said Majida Ameer, who ran out of her building in the capital's Salihiya district with her three children. "I thought at first that it was a huge bomb. But then I heard everyone around me screaming: 'Earthquake!'"
By The Guardian