Iran-Iraq earthquake live blog

A massive 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck at 1818 GMT on Sunday some 30 kilometres south of the Iraqi city of Halabja. The epicentre was in a mountainous region on the Iranian side of the border where hundreds of fatalities were reported. The toll is expected to rise further as relief efforts reach the remote area.

November 13

Aid response

On the Iraqi side of the border, aid has been sent by AFAD, the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority. The Turkish Red Crescent also shipped supplies – 30,000 tents, 10,000 blankets, 3,000 heaters, a mobile kitchen, and 10,000 beds – as well as personnel and said it would coordinate with the Iraqi and Iranian Red Crescent societies.

Lise Grande, UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said in a Mondaystatement: “Our priority right now is to help local authorities respond as quickly as possible.” She said UN assessment teams had arrived in Darbandikhan, an area hit hard in Sulaymaniah Province. A UN disaster and coordination team is also on its way from Geneva, Grande added, and the World Health Organization has sent supplies, a team, and two ambulances to a local hospital.

The Iranian Red Crescent is deploying teams to Qasre-Shirin, Gilane-Garb, Kermanshah, Sare-Pule-Zahab, Salase-Babajani, Dalahoo, Islamabad-e-Gharb, and Javanrood. Its English-language website reports that 40 ambulances, 55 4WD vehicles, nine rescue vehicles, and five helicopters have been dispatched. Turkey and other nations have offered assistance and Turkey has search-and-rescue teams at the ready, but IRIN understands that Iran has still not requested any international help. Iran’s Press TVreports that 100 Iranian medics have been dispatched to the most-affected areas and that the Iranian air force has deployed helicopters to transport the injured out of the quake-stricken region.

Early pictures emerge

Latest toll

At least 348 people have been killed and thousands injured, mostly in Iran’s northwestern Kermanshah Province. The death toll is expected to rise as relief crews reach remote towns and villages. The majority of the initial deaths were reported in the Iranian city of Sarpol-e Zahab, about 15 kilometres from the Iraqi border. There are conflicting reports about the death toll in Iraqi Kurdistan, where as many as eight were reported, and between 300 people and more than 500 hospitalised.

Iran’s past quakes

Iran sits on several fault lines and the government has even considered moving its capital out of Tehran to avoid the devastation of an earthquake in the city of more than eight million. In 1990, a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in northern Iran near the Caspian Sea killed an estimated 40,000 people, while a 6.6-magnitude quake near the southeastern city of Bam killed around 30,000 in 2003.

The impact zone

The UN estimates that approximately 1.8 million people (in both countries) live within 100 kilometres of the epicentre. Gary Lewis, the UN resident coordinator in Iraq, tweeted that the UN was “considering options for support to Iran if needed”. IRIN understands the Iranian government has not asked for assistance at this time.

Live broadcast 

Kurdish-Iraqi TV channel Rudaw was live when the earthquake hit. Here’s what the broadcast looked like:

Facebook activates Safety Check

Facebook has activated its suite of emergency-related offerings. The page for the earthquake includes the Safety Check feature, which allows people to tell their friends they are OK. A donate button steers public contributions to Global Giving, a funding organisation that lists no projects in Iran, but 12 in Iraq.