Strong earthquake hits Iraq-Iran border, several killed

KUWAIT: People rushed out of their homes in panic yesterday night as a tremor shook Kuwait, after an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 struck neighboring Iraq. An Iraqi meteorology official said the earthquake hit large parts of Iraq, including the capital Baghdad. The US Geological Survey placed its epicenter at around 32 km outside the Iraqi city of Halabja along the Iraq-Iran border, issuing an "orange" alert for "shaking-related fatalities and economic losses".

Iran's state TV said at least six people were killed and many injured in the Western Iranian town of Qasr-e Shirin. Eight villages were damaged, while electricity and water was cut in some villages. Rescue teams have been dispatched to those areas, it added. The semi-official Iranian ILNA news agency reported that at least 14 provinces had been impacted by the earthquake. Iraqi health and local officials said at least one person was killed and 50 wounded in Darbandikhan, 75 km east of the major city of Sulaimaniyah in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

All across Kuwait, buildings were swiftly evacuated as people rushed out onto the streets, with images and videos of jittery residents immediately circulating on social media. Unconfirmed reports warned aftershocks were expected, causing further anxiety. The Kuwait National Seismic Network confirmed that a tremor with a magnitude between 4 and 5 degrees was felt in Kuwait. The fire department said in a statement the quake did not cause any harm, adding it received more than 40 calls from people saying they felt the tremor. Interior ministry officials also assured residents that the tremor did not cause any damage or traffic incidents.

By Shakir Reshamwala and Agencies