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Strong quake hits Iraq-Iran border region

Strong quake hits Iraq-Iran border region

It struck 32km (20mi) south-west of the Iraqi town of Halabja, the USGS said.

Iraq's Meteorological Organization issued a warning on state TV urging people to stay away from buildings and to avoid from using elevators, CNN reported. Electricity had been cut in the area and rescue teams had been dispatched to the area.

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 epicentre.

In Iraq, at least six people died.

"The situation there is very critical", Rasheed told Reuters. The extent of damage and casualties remain to be seen. "An natural disaster this size can produce significant damage, especially as this region, where the population resides in structures that are highly vulnerable to quake shaking". That town was struck by a powerful quake on November 12, 2017, that left at least 6 dead.

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Like most quakes that strike the region, this one was shallow, said Don Blakeman, a geophysicist with the USGS's National Earthquake Information Center.

Iran is prone to near daily quakes as it sits on many major fault lines.

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 quake struck along the border with Iran. At least eight villages have been damaged.

Shocks were felt in Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon, Kuwait and Turkey, news agencies in those countries reported.