Iranians dug through rubble in a frantic search for survivors on Monday after a powerful magnitude-7.3 earthquake hit the northern border region between Iran and Iraq, killing more than 445 people and injuring thousands of others in the world’s deadliest earthquake so far this year.
The quake, recorded at 9:18 p.m. on Sunday, was felt as far away as Turkey and Pakistan while the epicenter was near Ezgeleh, Iran, about 135 miles northeast of Baghdad, and had a preliminary magnitude of 7.3, according to the United States Geological Survey.
It was gathered that tremors were felt hundreds of miles away in both capitals, in Tehran and Baghdad.
Local officials said the toll was likely to rise as search and rescue teams reached remote areas while the Iranian Red Crescent said more than 70,000 people were in need of emergency shelter.
The hardest hit province was Kermanshah, where three days of mourning have been announced. More than 236 people died in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab, about 10 miles from the Iraq border. In Kermanshah’s Dalahu county, the local governor was quoted as saying that some villages had been completely destroyed.
At least 445 people were killed and 7,370 people were injured in Iran, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency, which gave an estimate significantly higher than the death toll of 407 that officials had announced earlier.
At least eight people were killed on the Iraqi side of the border, according to Dr. Saif al-Badir, a spokesman for the Health Ministry, and at least 535 were hurt.
In Tehran, hundreds of people waited in line to donate blood in response to a call from the government. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, delivered a message of condolence on Monday, urging rescue workers to keep searching for survivors.
“The officials should hasten in these first hours with all their might and determination to help the injured, especially those trapped under the rubble,” his office reported.
By the evening, however, Iranian officials said that the rescue mission was nearly over, according to the state news media.