Iranian officials put the epicenter of the quake inside Iran, near the border town of Ezgeleh. The region is a patchwork of farms and is home to many Kurds, a large ethnic minority in Iran.
Initial reports from the Kurdish region of Iraq indicated less damage and fewer deaths on that side of the border. In Sulaimaniya, the second-largest city in Iraq’s Kurdish region, residents described feeling heavy tremors but said there was no notable building damage. Residents in the oil-rich town of Kirkuk, some 50 miles to the west, reported similar damage.
The earthquake was felt as far as the Mediterranean coast of Israel. Shiite pilgrims in the Iraqi city of Kerbala, for the annual religious commemoration of Arba’een, posted videos of people gathering on the streets after the earthquake occurred.
Iran lies on dozens of fault lines and is prone to quakes. In 2012, a double earthquake in the north of the country killed 300 people. When ordinary Iranians learned of the government’s lackluster relief efforts, some started organizing aid groups themselves. In 2003, more than 20,000 people were killed and an ancient citadel was destroyed in the southern city of Bam.
After that quake, the United States, which does not maintain normal diplomatic relations with Iran, sent several planeloads of aid.
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