A major 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck northeast Iraq near the Iran border on Sunday killing several and injuring more.
An earthquake of magnitude 7.3 which took place on the Iraq-Iran border late on Sunday left 402 people confirmed dead and 6,650 injured, according to reports from Iran’s Press TV.
The quake is the deadliest of 2017 after overtaking September’s Mexico city shock in which 369 people lost their lives.
It was felt as far as Turkey and Pakistan, with some 145 aftershocks being reported.
The United States Geological Survey placed it as a preliminary 7.2 magnitude, with the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre reporting 7.6 preliminary.
“Significant casualties and damages are likely and the disaster is potentially widespread,” reported the USGS.
At 9:18 pm local time, the earthquake struck some 32 km southwest of the Iraqi Kurdish city of Halabja, a shallow quake at 34 km below the surface.
Tremors have been felt from as far as Israel, Kuwait, Syria, Azerbaijan, Armenia and western Turkey.
Some 68.3 million individuals may have felt the earthquake, and 2.9 may have experienced strong shaking.
Authorities in Iran and Iraq have initiated rescue operations.
Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi tweeted on Monday that he had instructed civil defense teams and health and aid agencies to do all that they can to provide assistance to those affected by the quake.
Meanwhile in Iran, the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei sent a message of condolence and urged military and civilian help to be dispatched to quake victims.
“It was so intense,” a witness from Sulaymaniyah, some 83 km from the epicentre, told EMSC.
“While I was on phone speaking to a friend of mine from another city, we both felt the quake and I could hear his kid crying of the fear!”
Multiple witness reports say tremors lasted 30 seconds.
Mosques across the country and in the capital Baghdad have been blasting prayers through loudspeakers, say reports.
More details to follow. Image 1 of the epicentre from USGS source.