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Nine dead after earthquake hits Turkey-Iran border

February 23, 2020

A 5.7 magnitude quake has struck Iran's northwestern border with Turkey. Ankara says nine people have been killed in Turkey, while Iran is still assessing damage and casualties.

Rescuers and residents search through rubble to find those trapped
Image: picture-alliance/AA/N. Hazar

Nine people, including three children, have died following a 5.7 magnitude earthquake that struck the Turkey-Iran border region early on Sunday, Turkey's interior minister Suleyman Soylu said.

Twenty-one people were injured — including eight who were in a critical condition, according to the health ministry.

"Search and rescue efforts are ongoing," Soylu said, adding that officials think people are still buried under the collapse of more than 1,000 buildings in several border villages.

The quake had a depth of 5 kilometers (3.1 miles), the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said. 

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More casualties 'very likely'

The epicenter of the quake, which struck at 9:23 a.m. local time (553 UTC), was near the Iranian village of Habash-e Olya, less than 10 kilometers (six miles) from the Turkish border, according to the USGS.

An Iranian official told state TV that "rescue teams have been dispatched to the area ... it is not a populated area in Iran's West Azerbaijan province."

However, another local official said it is "very likely" that there will be casualties or damages, Iran's state TV reported. The official added that the earthquake was felt in several cities, including Khoy, Urmiah and Salmas.

Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency said the quake also caused damage in several villages in neighboring Van province, which was struck earlier this month by two avalanches that killed 41 people.

Iran and Turkey are among the most earthquake-prone countries in the world. An earthquake last month in eastern Turkey killed more than 40 people, while another in Iran caused structural damage to homes without causing any fatalities. 

lc/mm (AFP, Reuters)

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