BAGHDAD/ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) – A strong earthquake hit large parts of northern Iraq and the capital Baghdad on Sunday, and also caused damage in villages across the border in Iran where state TV said at least six people had been killed.
There were no immediate reports of casualties in Iraq after the quake, whose epicenter was in Penjwin, in Sulaimaniyah province which is in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region very close to the Iranian border, according to an Iraqi meteorology official.
But eight villages were damaged in Iran and at least six people were killed and many others injured in the border town of Qasr-e Shirin in Iran, Iranian state TV said.
The US Geological Survey said the quake measured a magnitude of 7.3, while an Iraqi meteorology official put its magnitude at 6.5 according to preliminary information.
Many residents in the Iraqi capital Baghdad rushed out of houses and tall buildings in panic.
“I was sitting with my kids having dinner and suddenly the building was just dancing in the air,” said Majida Ameer, who ran out of her building in the capital’s Salihiya district with her three children. “I thought at first that it was a huge bomb. But then I heard everyone around me screaming ‘Earthquake!’”
There were similar scenes in Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region, and across other cities in northern Iraq, close to the quake’s epicenter.
Iraq’s meteorology center advised people to stay away from buildings and not to use elevators, in case of aftershocks.
The quake was even felt in the Iranian capital Tehran, with some villages hit by power cuts, Iranian state TV reported.
“The quake was felt in several Iranian provinces bordering Iraq … Eight villages were damaged … Electricity has been cut in some villages and rescue teams have been dispatched to those areas,” TV reported.
Residents of Turkey’s southeastern city of Diyarbakir also reported feeling a strong tremor, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties in the city.
Israeli media said the quake was felt in many parts of Israel too.
Reporting by Raya Jalabi and Ahmed Rasheed in Iraq,; Parisa Hafezi in Ankara; Editing by Susan Fenton and Richard Balmforth