At least 140 people were killed and hundreds more were injured after a 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck near the Iran-Iraq border, the Iranian government said late Sunday.
The state news agency, IRNA, said Sunday night that the official death toll of 141 was expected to rise. It said 860 injuries had been counted so far. The Iraqi Meteorological and Seismology Organization, meanwhile, warned that the country should brace for another possible quake in the coming hours.
The U.S. Geological Survey, or USGS, said the quake was recorded at 9:18 p.m. local time (1:18 p.m. ET). It measured the quake at a magnitude 7.3, while Iraq’s state geologists said it was magnitude 7.5.
Citing an Iranian governor speaking on state television, Mojtaba Nikkerdar, Reuters reported that 129 people were killed in Kermanshah province, near the Iraqi border, alone. More than 60 of the victims were in the single town of Sarpol-e Zahab.
“There are still people under the rubble,” Nikkerdar said, according to Reuters. “We hope the number of dead and injured won’t rise too much, but it will rise.”
Stephen Hicks, a seismologist at the University of Southhampton in England, said that in a region where earthquakes are common, Sunday’s uake appeared to be the largest in “a long time.”
Like most of those other temblors, this one was shallow, said Don Blakeman, a geophysicist with the USGS’s National Earthquake Information Center.
No large cities were near the epicenter, Blakeman said, but NBC News producers in the region said it was felt as far away as Tehran and Baghdad, which are about 460 miles and 170 miles away, respectively.
Still, Blakeman added, the region has many towns and villages.
“Without a doubt,” he said, there will likely be serious damage.
At her home in Irbil, about 170 miles northwest of the epicenter, Lana Serwan said the temblor lasted for a minute.
“Everything was shaking,” said Serwan, 35.
Another Irbil resident, Manar Ksebeh, 26, said he was in his 12th-floor apartment when he heard people running and shouting. So he fled down his building’s stairwell.