Iran-Iraq earthquake: What happened and why | Iraq News


A 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck the border region between Iraq and Iran on Sunday evening.

This is what we know: 

What happened and where? 

  • Over 50 tremors were felt across Iraq and Iran from Sunday night to midday on Monday. The shocks were felt as far as  Kuwait , Qatar, Turkey, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

  • At 9pm (18:18 GMT) local time in Iraq on Sunday, November 12, 2017, an earthquake struck near the border with Iran. The earthquake was 45km from Halabjah in the country’s east.

  • At 12am local time in Iran on Monday, a 4.5 magnitude tremor was felt near Sarpol-e Zahab. Until 3am, two more tremors of the same magnitude hit again in Sarpol-e Zahab. Then, at 7am, a stronger 4.9 magnitude tremor hit again.

  • At 7am and 8am on Monday, two tremors were felt in Halabjah with a magnitude of 4.3 and 4.2 each.

  • At 11am a tremor of magnitude 4.4 hit again in Kermanshan province in Iran.
  • At 12pm a tremor of magnitude 4.8 hit in Khanaquin, Iraq. 


How many people died? 

  • The majority of victims were Iranian. IRNA, the country’s state news service, said on Monday that at least 328 people were killed and 3,950 were injured. 

  • At least seven people killed in Iraq. Reports quoting Iraq’s interior minister said at least seven people were killed in Iraq’s northern province of Sulaimaniyah. There, at least 150 people were injured.
  • No injuries in neighbouring countries. Although tremors were felt beyond Iraq and Iran, no injuries have been reported in the neighbouring countries.

Why did it happen? How often are there earthquakes?

  • Being situated near a fault line, earthquakes are frequent in the region.

  • The epicentre of the earthquake near Halabjah falls on the 1,500 kilometre-fault line between the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates. The fault line extends through western Iran and into northeastern Iraq.

  • In 2012, two earthquakes hit north-west Iran killing 200 people, with more than 2,000 injured, near the towns of Tabriz and Ahar. 

  • In 2005, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit Iran’s Kerman province and killed more than 600 people. 
  • In 2003, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake flattened the historic city of Bam in southeastern Iran, killing some 26,000 people, 1000 km (600 miles) southeast of Tehran. 

Is it safe now? How extensive is the damage?

  • Small and big magnitude earthquakes have continued to hit around the area. As of latest, at 4.4 magnitude earthquake hit Kermanshan at 11:29 on Monday.

  • The eathquake severely damaged roads and infrastructure in Iran and Iraq.

  • Several cities are cut off from electricity, and rescue teams on both sides are rushing to provide shelter and aid to those affected.

  • The Iranian Red Crescent said more than 70,000 people needed emergency shelter. It is “difficult to send rescue teams to the villages because the roads have been cut off … there have been landslides,” said Iran’s emergency services chief, Pir Hossein Koolivand.

  • IRNA said 30 Red Cross teams had been sent to the quake zone. Schools in Kermanshah and Ilam provinces are closed.

  • Oil pipelines and refineries in the area remained intact, an Iranian official said. 

  • On the Iraqi side, officials in Sulaymaniyah declared an emergency on Monday to assess the aftermath, according to local Kurdish media.

  • The most extensive damage was in the town of Darbandikhan, southern Sulamaniyah. 

  • Residents were told to sleep outside their homes as precautionary measure. Iraq’s meteorology centre also advised people to stay away from buildings and elevators, in case of aftershocks. The province of Kermanshah has announced three days of mourning.


  • President Rouhani said: “I wholeheartedly sympathise with all the injured and the victims of this disaster, and ask the Almighty [for] mercy for those who lost their lives, swift recovery for the injured and patience and health for those fellow Iranians who lost their beloved one.”

  • Turkey was the first country to offer aid through its Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency. It announced 92 rescue personnel were on standby, with 4,000 tents and 7,000 blankets.

  • EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said the bloc was ready to cooperate with Iran in providing emergency relief aid. 

  • Pakistan also expressed its condolences. 

In Pictures

People receive treatment following an earthquake in Sarpol-e Zahab county in Kermanshah, Iran [Reuters]


People react as they run following an earthquake in Sarpol-e Zahab county in Kermanshah [ Reuters] 
A man walks past a collapsed building following an earthquake in Darbandikhan in Sulaimaniyah Governorate, Iraq [Ako Rasheed/Reuters]

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