7.2 magnitude natural disaster strikes Iran-Iraq border region - USGS

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The United States Geological Survey reports a preliminary magnitude 7.2 quake struck near Halabjah, Iraq on Sunday.

In the province of Sulaimaniyah, located in Iraq's Kurdistan region, residents ran out onto the streets at the time of the quake and some property damage was recorded, an AFP reporter said.

At least eight villages were damaged in Iran after the quake Iran's state TV reported.

Initial reports said a number of villages have been damaged and a number of people have lost their lives in western town of Qasr-e Shirin.

The centre was reported by the USGS to be in the southeast of Iraq's Sulaymaniya province, close to the Iranian border.

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The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter was 19 miles outside the Iraqi city of Halabja.

In Iran, the natural disaster was felt in the capital Tehran.

Semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted an emergency services official as saying there were fears that casualties in villages and small towns could be high. A magnitude 6.6 devastated the historic city of Bam in 2003, killing about 26,000 people.

Residents were keeping away from their homes and sleeping on the streets, several hours after the quake hit. Eventually, the rumble made its way to Irbil, where the anchor left his chair for safety.

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