The U. S. Geological Survey said the epicenter of the earthquake was 19 miles) outside the Iraqi city of Halabja.
A magnitude-7.2 earthquake Sunday jolted the region near the border between Iran and Iraq, killing at least 61 people and injuring 300, Iranian state TV reported.
The U. S. Geological Survey said the epicenter was 19 miles outside the Iraqi city of Halabja.
The semi-official Iranian ILNA news agency reported that at least 14 provinces had been impacted by the earthquake.
Faramarz Akbari, a local official in the Iranian border city of Ghasr-e Shirin, reported the death toll to Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency, according to the Associated Press.
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Iranian social media was abuzz with posts of people evacuating their homes, especially from the cities of Ghasr-e Shirin and Kermanshah.
Esmail Najar, head of Iran’s National Disaster Management Organization, said “some injured people might be buried under the rubble in Ghasr-e Shirin.”
Iran is prone to near daily quakes as it sits on many major fault lines. In 2003, a magnitude-6.6 earthquake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.
Sunday’s earthquake hit in the “Zagros fold and thrust belt” where the Arabian and Eurasian plates collide — producing several earthquakes, said Jascha Polet, a seismologist at California State Polytechnic University-Pomona.
“There have been many earthquakes between magnitude 5 and 6, but only a few over magnitude-7,” Polet told USA TODAY. “An earthquake this size can produce significant damage, especially as this region, where the population resides in structures that are highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking.”
In 1978, a magnitude-7.4 earthquake hit Tabas, Iran, and killed about 20,000 people. It was the third deadliest natural disaster on record.
A Rudaw TV news anchor interviewed a guest in the Kurdish city of Sulaimani in northeastern Iraq when the studio was hit by the quake. Eventually, the rumble made its way to Irbil, where the anchor left his chair for safety.
Rudaw reported 50 people hurt in Darbandikhan, about 20 miles southeast of Sulaimani. Officials in Halabja declared an emergency and told workers to stay home on Monday for cleanup efforts.
Halabja, 10 miles from the Iranian border, is home to the chemical weapons attack by Saddam Hussein in 1988 that killed as many as 5,000 residents in what was called “Bloody Friday.”
Contributing: The Associated Press