Iran hit hard by 7.2 magnitude earthquake as death toll climbs to 61, hundreds injured

Source: 1News

At least 61 people are dead and more than 200 have been injured according to an Irainian official after a strong 7.2-magnitude earthquake jolted the region between Iran and Iraq.

The US Geological Survey confirmed the quake on its website, placing its epicentre around 31 kilometres outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja and issuing an "orange" alert for "shaking-related fatalities and economic losses".

The quake took place about 7.18am New Zealand time at a depth of 34km.

The Islamic Republic of Iran News Network quoted the head of the country's emergency medical services, Pirhossein Koulivand, as saying at least 61 had been killed and 300 injured on Iran's side of the border. 

Residents reported on the CSEM EMSC website that the quake was very strong.

"I never felt anything stronger that this in my life," wrote one person, who was in As Sulaymānīyah.

One witness at Camp Taji in Iraq- where New Zealand has troops stationed - said "I'm in an old building on Camp Taji ... the old building I work in shook for a good 2-3mins". 

"I went outside and felt the ground still trembling ... total time was probably 3-4 mins ... everyone in my building went outside due to the shaking," they wrote.

Others reported that it was felt as far away as Baghdad International Airport.

People reportedly took to the street after the quake in affected regions.

A map showing the extent of shaking from a magnitude-7.3 earthquake near the border of Iraq and Iran on November 12 2017.

A witness in Erbil - about 225km from the epicentre, wrote that "the whole home was shaking ... it was quite terrifying".

Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran's emergency medical services, told a local television station that the earthquake led to a power outage in the country's western cities of Mehran and Ilam.

He also said 35 rescue teams were providing assistance.

Iranian social media was abuzz with posts of people evacuating their homes, particularly in Kermanshah and Ghasr-e Shirin, where injured people were thought to be buried under the rubble.

The semi-official Iranian ILNA news agency reported that at least 14 provinces had been impacted by the earthquake.

Iran sits on many major fault lines and is prone to near-daily quakes. In 2003, a 6.6 magnitude flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.