ANKARA (Reuters) - At least 61 people were killed and 300 were injured in border areas of Iran when an earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck neighbouring Iraq on Sunday, Iranian state television reported.
It also quoted the head of the country’s emergency services, Pirhossein Koulivand, as saying that many of the victims were in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab, about 15 km (10 miles) from the border.
“The quake was felt in several Iranian provinces bordering Iraq ... Eight villages were damaged ... Electricity has been cut in some villages and rescue teams have been dispatched to those areas,” the TV reported.
Iranian media and officials gave partial and contradictory figures on the number of people killed and injured in the quake and semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted an emergency services official as saying there were fears that casualties in distant villages and small towns could be high.
People were staying out on the streets in towns in the western Kermanshah province because of the threat from aftershocks, a local Red Crescent official told TV. Many houses in rural parts of the province are made of mud bricks and are known to crumble easily in quake-prone Iran.
A quake registering a magnitude between 7 and 7.9 can inflict widespread, heavy damage.
Local people said in media reports and on Twitter they had felt several aftershocks. TV said schools were closed in the Kermanshah and Ilam provinces on Monday.
Additional reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Richard Balmforth