Natural disaster of 7.3 magnitude hits Iraq: USGS

Like most quakes that strike the region, this one was shallow, said Don Blakeman, a geophysicist with the USGS's National Earthquake Information Center.

Local media reported that eight villages in Iran had been damaged by the quake and rescue teams had been sent to those areas. Semi-official Fars news agency and state news agency IRNA said at least six people had been killed and many others injured in the border town of Qasr-e Shirin.

The centre was reported by the USGS to be in the southeast of Iraq's Sulaymaniya province, close to the Iranian border.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake struck 15.5 miles beneath the surface about 20 miles from Halabjah, Iraq. There has been no official report from Iraq's government.

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It was so strong that it was felt in various cities in Western Iran and even Tehran, and also in the neighbouring countries, particularly Kuwait.

Iran is prone to near daily quakes as it sits on many major fault lines. A magnitude 6.6 devastated the historic city of Bam in 2003, killing about 26,000 people. It was the third deadliest natural disaster on record.

Residents of the northern Iraqi city of Erbil in the street after the quake hit. Officials in Halabja declared an emergency and told workers to stay home on Monday for cleanup efforts.


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