7.3-Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Iran and Iraq, Tremors Felt in Israel

Quake Damages 8 Cities, 526 Villages in Western Iranian Province: Official

At least 530 people were killed in Iran's deadliest quake in more than a decade, state news agency IRNA reported yesterday, adding that more than 8,000 others were injured, according to Reuters.

The temblor hit about 19 miles outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and struck 14.4 miles below the surface, a somewhat shallow depth that can cause broader damage.

Rescue operations have ended in areas of Iran hit by a powerful weekend quake that killed at least 530 people and injured more than 8000, as many survivors, in need of food and water, battled the cold. Two whole villages were destroyed.

The Iranian army, the elite Revolutionary Guards and forces of its affiliated Basij militia were dispatched to affected areas on Sunday night.

"People in some villages are still in dire need of food, water and shelter", governor of Qasr-e Shirin Faramarz Akbari told state television.

"We need everything. The authorities should speed up their help", one homeless young woman in Sarpol-e-Zahab, where most of the victims died, told Reuters news agency.

On the Iraq side of the border, 11 people were killed and the most damage was seen in Darbandikhan, near the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. Initial Iranian government estimates suggest the quake destroyed 12,000 apartments and free-standing homes, and damaged 15,000 others.

I was informed with a deep sorrow about dozens of casualties and destructions caused by the devastating natural disaster in the Iranian province of Kermanshah. "The rescue operations in Kermanshah province have ended", said the head of Iran's Emergency Medical Services Pir-Hossein Kolivand. "There is no electricity".

Some of the buildings, which were built by government-affiliated programs and "state-owned schemes", according to a statement from the Office of the President, collapsed or were badly damaged.

So far, rescue operation and assessment is being conducted on the ground and relief items including tents, ground sheets, blankets, kitchen sets, and food items such as canned food and rice are being distributed among the affected people and the people staying outdoor, scaring of getting back to their houses. "The temperature tonight will drop below freezing and many people will be left outside their homes". We heard a few aid workers in Sarpol-e Zahab saying that those in the villages were already dead and nothing could be done for them.

Iran is crisscrossed by major fault lines and has suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years, including a 6.6 magnitude quake in 2003 that reduced the historic southeastern city of Bam to dust and killed some 31,000 people.