No fewer than 400 people died and buildings levelled following a 7.3-magnitude earthquake that struck the Iraq-Iran border area Sunday night.
Rescuers dug with their bare hands yesterday through the debris of buildings brought down by the quake in the once-contested mountainous border region, with nearly all of the victims in an area rebuilt since the end of the ruinous 1980s war, about 19 miles (31 kilometers) outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja, according to the most recent measurements from the United States Geological Survey.
The number of dead came from the provincial forensic department based on death certificates issued. Some reports said authorities warned that unauthorized burials without certification could mean the death toll was higher.
According to Associated Press, it hit at 9:48 p.m. Iran time, just as people were going to bed.
The worst damage appeared to be in the Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah, which sits in the Zagros Mountains that divide Iran and Iraq.