An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.5 struck Western Iran on Wednesday, rattling the seismically vulnerable Kurdish region.
Iran’s Sarpol-e Zahab district, more than 200 miles northeast of Tehran, suffered the largest casualties, with at least 11 people killed and 131 injured, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.
“The area where the quake hit is below three kilometers in depth and so the damage has been fairly moderate,” said Wayne Hall, geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey.
Chainsaws and army trucks were on hand in Sarpol-e Zahab to clear away debris, as buses and domestic flights were delayed, IRNA reported.
About 250 people have sought shelter in Sarpol-e Zahab’s smaller villages, according to local reports.
The quake is believed to have been centered about 40 miles from the western city of Golestan, the epicenter of the 2003 earthquake that struck the southern Iranian province of Bam and killed at least 26,000 people. Iran and Iraq sit atop a tectonic plate that divides Asia and Africa, which in turn is split by the Eurasian plate.
“Seismic activity that occurred near Borujerd … could lead to aftershocks for quite some time,” Hall said.
In 2014, the United States Geological Survey confirmed that a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck the country’s Iranian province of Kermanshah.