Earthquake kills more than 350 people, injures some 6,000 others, says Iranian Fars news agency
By Cansu Dikme and Meryem Goktas
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday offered condolences to the victims of Sunday’s earthquake that hit the Iraq-Iran border region.
“I wish a speedy recovery to the people of Iraq and Iran after an earthquake that happened in northern Iraq yesterday night, [and]I offer my condolences,” said Erdogan ahead of his departure to the Russian city of Sochi where he is to hold talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Erdogan said Turkish aid agencies, including the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and Red Crescent, were conducting search-and-rescue efforts in the affected region.
“As of now, an aid convoy of 50 trucks has crossed into Iraq through Habur [border gate]in coordination with the AFAD and the Red Crescent,” Erdogan said.
The 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit around 32 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of the Iraqi city of Halabja at 9.15 p.m. Iraqi time (1815GMT), the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The Iranian Fars news agency reported at least 372 people dead and around 6,000 others injured, with most casualties taking place in the city of Kermanshah. The death toll is expected to rise.
The Iraqi Interior Ministry said seven people were killed and 321 injured in northern Iraq.
Erdogan also mentioned his upcoming visit with Putin in Russia’s coastal city of Sochi, saying he would focus on such topics as trade, economy and Syria.
The last meeting between Erdogan and Putin was on Sept. 28 in Turkey’s capital Ankara.
Erdogan emphasized Turkey maintains its focus on developing the trade volume with Russia, which has been estimated at $100 billion.
“I can say that the obstacles to this goal have for the most part been removed. I hope that the last few remaining trade restrictions will be lifted soon,” he added.
Erdogan said he would also address expectations for a re-establishment of a visa-free regime between both countries.
The president added that he was also planning to discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh issue with Putin.
Azerbaijan and Armenia are in dispute over the occupied Karabakh region.
Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan in 1991 with Armenian military support, and a peace process has yet to be implemented.
Later on Monday, Erdogan will depart for Kuwait to sign bilateral agreements.
Erdogan will then head to Qatar to attend the third meeting of the Turkey-Qatar Supreme Strategic Committee.