TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Iran’s Army Commander Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi and units from the Army Ground Force rushed to the western province of Kermanshah for relief efforts after a strong earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale hit the border region between Iran and Iraq on Sunday night.

Commander of the Iranian Army Ground Force Brigadier General Kiomars Heidari said on Monday that his forces across the country have been on full alert since the powerful earthquake rattled the region.

He added that the Army Ground Force has deployed its forces to the quake-hit areas and taken measures to help in the rescue efforts.

The measures include establishing field hospitals at the border, dispatching 15 medical teams, sending food supplies, and setting up over 200 tents, he added. 

The commander said a number of helicopters and ambulances of the army have also been deployed to the quake districts.

Brigadier General Heidari made assurances that the forces will try their hardest to rescue quake-hit people in Kermanshah province.

In the meantime, Army Commander Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi also headed for the province to facilitate rescue operations.

At least 348 people have been killed and 4,050 others injured after the 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck west of Iran along the country’s border with Iraq on Sunday night.

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), 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 Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali 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 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.