TEHRAN – More than 400 people were killed and 6,700 others injured by a magnitude-7.3 earthquake that was felt in the western province of Kermanshah, Iranian authorities said on Monday.
The temblor, whose epicenter was in neighboring eastern Iraq, reduced buildings to rubble, forced schools and businesses to close and prompted residents to flee their homes in favor of improvised tent cities.
The quake struck at 9:18 pm Sunday near the town of Halabja in Iraqi Kurdistan, at a depth of 11 kilometers (6.8 miles), according to the United States Geological Survey.
The Iraqi government has blamed the earthquake for eight deaths on its side of the border.
More than 30 aftershocks have been registered so far, the strongest a magnitude-4.7.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for a coordinated national response to the disaster.
“It is necessary for all within the country’s relief apparatus, both in the affected and nearby provinces, to cooperate and do everything within their capacity to help, accommodate and shelter people in the disaster areas,” he said in a statement cited by state-run news agency IRNA.
The army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have been mobilized for the rescue and recovery effort in Kermanshah.
Rouhani was set to visit the affected regions, where a delegation led by Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli was already on the ground Monday.
Nearly a score of helicopters, three aircraft and 140 ambulances have been sent to the zone to help evacuate the injured, Deputy Crisis Management Minister Behnam Saidi said.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that all of the country’s capabilities must be rapidly brought to bear on the disaster in Kermanshah.
But residents of the hardest-hit town, Sarpul Zahab, expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s response.
“We have neither water nor food,” Safari, a 32-year-old man, told EFE at a makeshift campsite in a local park.
Maradikhah, a young woman who came to Sarpul Zahab when she was unable to reach relatives there by telephone, recounted to EFE that she arrived in time to see first responders pull the bodies of her aunt and two cousins from beneath the wreckage of their home.