TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari along with his forces rushed to quake-hit areas west of Iran on Monday after a strong earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale struck the regions.
Speaking to the Press Shia Agency News Agency, IRGC Spokesman General Ramezan Sharif said following the massive tremor in western Iran on Sunday night, which led to heavy casualties, Major General Jafari headed for the western province of Kermanshah early on Monday.
From the very first hours of the earthquake, the IRGC began its aid and relief efforts in the region, he said.
The spokesman added that Major General Jafari canceled his pre-set plans for Monday and headed for the quake areas as soon as Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei ordered all Iranian officials and military forces to rush to help the victims.
He also said the IRGC has mobilized all of its forces and equipment to rescue the victims of the tragic incident.
At least 328 people have been killed and 3,950 injured after the 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck west of Iran along the country's border with Iraq on Sunday night.
The epicenter of the earthquake was close to Halabjah, southeast of Iraq’s Sulaymaniyah.
Thousands of government and rescue workers have been mobilized by order of Ayatollah Khamenei, plunging into the rubble across the western cities and villages as local people are also helping clear debris.
Hospitals in the western cities of Eslamabad-e-Gharb, Sarpol-e-Zahab, and Qasre-e-Shirin are packed with the injured people as the death toll is expected to rise.
The earthquake was just about 25 km (15 miles) deep and was felt in Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Kuwait, Armenia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
In Iran, the quake struck hardest the area of Azgaleh in Kermanshah province. The closest cities in the area are Tazeabad, 25km, and Bayangan, 37km away from the epicenter and the provincial capital city of Kermanshah is 122 km away.
Iran is one of the most seismically active countries in the world, being crossed by several major fault lines that cover at least 90% of the country. As a result, earthquakes in Iran occur often and are destructive.
The deadliest quake in Iran's modern history happened in June 1990. It destroyed the northern cities of Rudbar, Manjil, and Lushan, along with hundreds of villages, killing an estimated 37,000 people.
Bam in the country’s southeastern province of Kerman witnessed a strong quake in December 2003 which killed 31,000 people.