Cold nights to endanger thousands left homeless following deadly earthquake in Iraq, Iran

By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
November 16, 2017, 3:23:52 AM EST

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A 7.3-magnitude earthquake jolted the As-Sulaymaniyah region near the Iraq and Iran border on Sunday. The quake was originally rated a 7.2 by the U.S. Geological Survey.

According to the ABC News, more than 530 people were killed as a result of the earthquake. Nearly 10,000 others were injured during the violent shaking.

Iranian officials expressed concerns that fatalities and injuries may be higher due to the number of remote villages across the region that have not been accounted for at this time.

Iraq AP 11/13

People sit on the rubble of a destroyed house after an earthquake in the city of Darbandikhan, northern Iraq, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Dry weather will prevail across the region through at least Saturday, aiding rescue and recovery efforts; however, clear skies will allow temperatures to plummet to 4 C (39 F) at night in some of the hardest-hit areas.

Some locations in the mountains of western Iran could have temperatures dip to or below 0 C (32 F) each night this week.

Temperatures falling to these levels will put thousands of people who are now homeless at risk for cold-related illnesses, such as hypothermia.

According to the Associated Press, more than 12,000 tents were distributed in the hardest-hit areas, though more than 30,000 houses were damaged or destroyed by the quake.

Iran 11/15

A police officer distributes foods to earthquake survivors in Sarpol-e-Zahab, western Iran, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged late on Tuesday for continued aid shipments to these areas due to the cold weather.

Rain and mountain snow will be possible across the region from Sunday into the middle of next week.

"An earthquake this strong can easily cause severe damage to even well-constructed buildings," AccuWeather Meteorologist Renee Duff said.

The earthquake has also damaged a hydroelectric dam near the town of Darbandikhan, Iraq.

Iran AP 11/13

Survivors of the earthquake warm themselves in front of destroyed buildings at the city of Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (Pouria Pakizeh/ISNA via AP)

This area along the Zagros Mountains is a historic hot spot for earthquake activity, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Jim Andrews.

The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed the quake on its website, announcing its epicenter at around 32 km (19 miles) outside the Iraqi city of Halabja.

Shock waves were felt as far away as Qatar and the Mediterranean coast.

The USGS issued an "orange" alert for "shaking-related fatalities and economic losses."

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