7.3 magnitude earthquake shakes Iran-Iraq border

On Nov. 12, at about 9:48 p.m., a 7.3 magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale shook the rural Iran and Iraq border. According to Iranian and Iraqi authorities, over 500 people have died and more than 7,600 were injured. The epicenter of the powerful earthquake was near Ezgeleh, Iran and shook many towns along the Zagros Mountains that divide Iran and Iraq. The tremors were felt as far as 900 miles away in Turkey and Pakistan.

In a frantic search for survivors in the rubble across the rural region, the Iranian government mobilized its army and militia forces, but many of the rescuers have been blocked from villages due to landslides and road damages. Many small communities have been left to fend for themselves and search for loved ones without government rescue teams and proper equipment. Citizens have expressed frustration and desperation due to the lack of aid that they have received. “There has been no help yet, neither food nor water, no clothing, no tents, there is nothing… the whole city has been destroyed,” said a man in Sarpol-e Zahab, Iran. Located near the epicenter of the earthquake, Sarpol-e Zahab, Iran has seen the most widespread damage and makes up more than 200 of the counted deaths.

Seismologists have stated that Sunday’s earthquake is one of the largest quakes that has ever hit the western part of Iran. The major fault lines running through Iran are prone to quakes and the last large-scale earthquake was a magnitude 6.6 in 2003, which flattened the historic city of Bam, Iran and killed over 26,000 people. This was mostly due to the fact that the infrastructure of Bam, Iran is made from clay, making the buildings more vulnerable to collapse.

Many neighboring countries have offered assistance to Iraq and Iran, including the Turkish government despite the Iraqi and Kurdish conflicts since September. In addition, the Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz sent condolences out to Iraq and Iran, although Iran does not recognize Israel. In comparison with the powerful September earthquake in Mexico City, the Iran-Iraq earthquake is now the strongest and deadliest earthquake of 2017. Photos and videos on social media show the horrific aftermath of the earthquake and the aftershocks that still shake the region.