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More than 400 people dead in Iran-Iraq quake

An earthquake victim is aided at Sulaimaniyah Hospital on November 12, 2017, in Sulaimaniyah, Iraq

More than 400 people have been killed and thousands injured after a magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck near the border between Iran and Iraq.

The earthquake was centred about 19 miles outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja at about 6.20pm UK time on Sunday.

It was 15 miles deep – a shallow depth that can cause broader damage – and was felt for about 20 seconds in Baghdad, as well as in Turkey, Kuwait and Israel.

State news agencies reported that 407 people had been killed and 6,700 injured by the tremor in Iran.

People flee in panic as the quake hits

At least seven deaths were reported in neighbouring Iraq, with 535 people hurt.

The quake also created cracks in a major dam holding back Iraq’s Diyala river, causing it to sink lower. There is not thought to be any immediate danger from the damage, although it is unclear whether power production might be affected.

It also triggered landslides in the mountainous region along the Iran-Iraq border and destroyed buildings, shattering windows and sending people running for safety.

  1. People walk past a damaged building following an earthquake in Darbandikhan in Sulaimaniya Governorate, Iraq
    Image: People walk past a damaged building following an earthquake in Darbandikhan in Sulaymaniya Governorate, Iraq
  2. Residents look at the damage following a 7.3-magnitude earthquake in Sarpol-e Zahab in Iran's western province of Kermanshah
    Image: At least 335 people were killed and around 5,000 injured after the magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck near the border between Iran and Iraq
  3. Residents huddle by a fire in an open area following a 7.3-magnitude earthquake at Sarpol-e Zahab in Iran's Kermanshah province
    Image: Residents huddle by a fire in an open area in Iran’s Kermanshah province. Continue through for more pictures
  4. Damaged building in Sarpol-e Zahab county in Kermanshah, Iran
  5. A damaged building following an earthquake in Darbandikhan in Sulaimaniya Governorate, Iraq
  6. Damage  in Sarpol-e Zahab county in Kermanshah, Iran
  7. A damaged building following an earthquake in Darbandikhan in Sulaimaniya Governorate, Iraq
  8. Damage in Sarpol-e Zahab county in Kermanshah, Iran

A damaged storefront is seen after an earthquake in Halabja, Iraq, November 12, 2017. Pic: Osama Golpy/Rudaw/Social Media/via REUTERS
Image: A damaged shop in Halabja, Iraq, where the quake was centred. Pic: Osama Golpy/Rudaw/Reuters

TV reports indicate that more than half of the Iranian casualties are from the town of Sarpol-e-Zahab, and the district of Ezgeleh, which have a combined population of 30,000.

The area, about 10 miles from the border with Iraq, is in the Kermanshah province.

Its governor told state TV: “There are still people under the rubble.

“We hope the number of dead and injured won’t rise too much, but it will rise.”

The quake hit a Kurdish region near the Iran-Iraq border
Image: The quake hit a Kurdish region near the Iran-Iraq border

Residents of Sarpol-e-Zahab described fleeing empty-handed as their homes collapsed, and said the power and water supply in the town was out. More than 100 aftershocks followed the quake.

At least three emergency relief camps have been set up after the only hospital in the town was badly damaged.

Head of emergency medical services Pirhossein Koulivand said it was “difficult to send rescue teams to the villages because the roads have been cut off – there have been landslides”.

Nevertheless, dozens of rescue teams are searching for survivors in larger towns and Red Cross teams are on their way.

The earthquake was centred near Halabja
Image: The earthquake was centred about 19 miles from Halabja

In Iraq, the most extensive damage was seen in the town of Darbandikhan, which is in the Kurdish region, where more than 30 people were injured.

Local health minister Rekawt Rasheed said the situation was “critical”, made worse by the fact that the district’s main hospital was badly damaged and without power.

The death toll in Iran alone has surpassed 300 people
Image: The death toll in Iran alone has surpassed 300 people

The Turkish Red Crescent has sent assistance including 33 aid trucks, 3,000 tents and heaters, 10,000 beds and blankets and food to Sulaymaniyah, and the military has dispatched a cargo plane of aid.

Relations between Turkey and the Kurdish region of northern Iraq have been tense since the Kurds held an independence referendum in September.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, offered his condolences and urged rescuers and government agencies to do all they can to help those affected by the quake.

People including rescue personnel conduct search and rescue work following a 7.3-magnitude earthquake at Sarpol-e Zahab in Iran's Kermanshah province on November 13, 2017. At least 164 people were killed and 1,600 more injured when a 7.3-magnitude earthquake shook the mountainous Iran-Iraq border triggering landslides that were hindering rescue efforts, officials said
Image: Sarpol-e Zahab was among the worst hit by the quake

The region has regular earthquakes and last night’s struck along a 930-mile fault line between the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates, which runs through western Iran and into Iraq’s northeast.

One of the region’s worst quakes struck Bam in Iran in 2003 and killed at least 31,000 people.

There have been two major quakes since then – in 2005 more than 600 people were killed and in 2012 about 300 died.

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    California ‘torture parents’ plead not guilty

    Louise and David Turpin appear in court for her arraignment in Riverside
    Image: David and Louise Turpin face 94 years in prison if convicted of the alleged torture and abuse

    The parents of 13 children have appeared in court accused of abusing and starving them and chaining them to their beds in their squalid California home.

    David Allen Turpin, 57, and his wife Louise Anna Turpin, 49, their hands and legs shackled, appeared calm as they pleaded not guilty on Thursday to multiple charges of abuse, torture and imprisonment.

    The pair were arrested on Sunday after their 17-year-old daughter jumped out of a window at their home in Perris, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles, and used a mobile phone to call police.

    She had been planning the escape with one of her sisters for two years, but the sibling, who also managed to flee the house with her, became frightened and returned to the property.

    Louise and David Turpin appear in court for her arraignment in Riverside
    Image: Louise Turpin and her husband David reject the allegations

    Prosecutors say the alleged abuse by the Turpins started many years ago when the family lived in Texas, and intensified over time as they relocated to Murrieta, California, in 2010, before moving to their current family home in 2014.

    In a news conference, Riverside County district attorney Mike Hestrin revealed more information about the charges, along with harrowing details of the alleged abuse, describing it as a case of “human depravity”.

    :: A happy family? Photos of chained siblings

    The children, aged between two and 29, were held captive at home and denied basic freedoms.

    The only thing they were allowed to do was to write in their journals – hundreds of which are being reviewed for evidence.

    They were only allowed to shower once a year, it is claimed, and if they ever washed their hands above their wrists they would be accused of playing with the water and punished.

    Louise and David Turpin appear in court for her arraignment in Riverside
    Image: David Turpin is also charged with committing a lewd act on a child under 14

    The district attorney described the alleged torture as “severe, emotional, physical abuse”, and revealed that at least one of the children had once been hogtied.

    “The victims said as a punishment they would be tied up with ropes but when they were able to escape, their parents began using chains and padlocks,” he said.

    Other punishments included “frequent beatings” and “strangulation”.

    Mr Hestrin said the children would be chained up for weeks, or even months at a time, and would not be freed to go to the toilet.

    The prosecution claims when they were not chained up, they were kept in separate rooms and fed very little and on a schedule.

    It is alleged the mother and father would buy food for themselves but not give any of it to their sons and daughters.

    Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin announces charges against David Turpin and Louise Turpin...
    Image: Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin announced the charges

    “They would buy food, including pies, apple pies, pumpkin pies, leave it on the counter. let the children look at it but not eat the food,” said Mr Hestrin.

    :: Captive siblings: Police reveal how girl escaped

    Its is alleged that when the family lived in Texas the parents at one point lived apart from most of their children and would drop off food from time to time.

    Mr Hestrin said the children had been starved so much they were malnourished, their growth was stunted and their muscles deteriorating.

    The eldest, a 29-year-old woman, weighed just over five-and-a-half stone (82lbs), and a 12-year-old appeared to be the size of an average seven-year-old.

    Mr Hestrin said there had been no torture charge filed in relation to the two-year-old because the toddler appeared to be “getting enough food”.

    None of the victims had seen a doctor in more than four years, and none of them had ever seen a dentist, according to the district attorney.

    The Turpin family
    Image: The Turpin family

    “They were not allowed to have toys, although there were many toys found in the house that were in their original package and had never been opened,” he said.

    The victims lacked a basic knowledge of life. Many of the children did not know what a police officer was, he continued.

    When the 17-year-old was asked if there was any medication or pills in the home, she did not know what they were.

    The parents turned their home into a private school called Sandcastle Day School, where the father was listed as the principal and its six pupils were the couple’s younger children.

    However, at least one of the older boys attended college classes, Mr Hestrin said, but his mother would accompany him, wait outside and take him home once his class had finished.

    Mr Hestrin said the entire family would sleep during the day, going to bed at around 4am or 5am, and be up all night.

    When officers raided the home they found one of the siblings, a 22-year-old, chained to a bed and evidence suggesting two others – aged 11 and 13, had been freed moments before their arrival.

    David Turpin and Louise Turpin appear in court for their arraignment in Riversid
    Image: The couple were arrested on Sunday

    The couple were charged with 12 counts of torture, 12 of false imprisonment, six of child abuse and six of abuse of a dependant adult.

    David Turpin was also charged with performing a lewd act on a child, a girl, under the age of 14.

    When asked to elaborate on the lewd act charge, Mr Hestrin said: “We are alleging that David Turpin touched one of the victims in a lewd way by using force or fear.”

    The parents – who were married in 1985 in Pearlsburg, Virginia, when he was 23 years old and she was 16 – could each face 94 years in jail if found guilty.

    “A case like that sticks with you and haunts you,” Mr Hestrin said.

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    “Sometimes in this business you are faced with human depravity, and that’s what we have here.”

    The Turpins are next due in court on 23 February.

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