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Buildings collapsed in the town of Darbandikhan in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq after a Nov. 12 earthquake. Photo by Ako Rasheed/Reuters

Hundreds killed as powerful earthquake strikes Iran-Iraq border

A magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck the northern Iran-Iraq border region Sunday, killing more than 500 people in both countries and injuring thousands.

Iranian media on Tuesday increased the death toll to 530 with 7,460 injured.

The quake hit at 9:18 p.m. local time about 20 miles from the eastern Iraqi city of Halabjah. It left gaping holes in mosques, sheared walls off apartment buildings and cracked parts of Iraq’s Diyala River dam.

Part of an apartment building fell in Sarpol-e Zahab county in Kermanshah, Iran. Photo by Tasnim News Agency via Reuters

Part of an apartment building fell in Sarpol-e Zahab county in Kermanshah, Iran. Photo by Tasnim News Agency via Reuters

“Immediately after I managed to get out (of the apartment), the building collapsed. I have no access to my belongings,” said Kokab Fard, a 49-year-old housewife in Sarpol-e-Zahab, Iran, reported the Associated Press.

Tens of thousands of Iranians slept outside in the mountainous border area as they awaited aid.

The adobe block and low-rise, non-ductile (brittle) concrete buildings in the region are vulnerable to earthquakes, and other recent temblors in the area have caused landslides, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Map shows location of earthquake on Iraq-Iran border. Courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey

Map shows location of earthquake on Iraq-Iran border with a yellow star. Click on the map for a larger version. Courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani planned to visit the damaged areas on Tuesday. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi directed government agencies to respond to the disaster.

The Turkish Red Crescent sent 33 aid trucks with tents, blankets and food to the Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah. The World Health Organization airlifted medical supplies for hospitals treating the injured in western Iran’s Kermanshah province.

The U.S. State Department issued the following statement: “The United States expresses its sincere condolences to all of those affected by the earthquake in Iran and Iraq. We keep the families of those who were killed, and injured, in our thoughts as well as the communities that have suffered damage to homes and property.”

People survey the damage in Darbandikhan, Iraq, on Nov. 13. Photo by Ako Rasheed/Reuters

People survey the damage in Darbandikhan, Iraq, on Nov. 13. Photo by Ako Rasheed/Reuters

People remove rubble from a damaged mosque in Khanaqin, Iraq. Photo by a Reuters stringer

People remove rubble from a damaged mosque in Khanaqin, Iraq. Photo by a Reuters stringer

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