World Vision ready to respond to devastating earthquake in Iraq

World Vision humanitarian staff are on standby to respond to a massive 7.3 earthquake centred on the Iraq-Iran border that killed more than 320 people on Sunday.

Staff based in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah in Northern Iraq (closest to the epicentre near Halabja) in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region felt the quake and immediately began working to establish the extent of the damage.

Response Director Ian Dawes, who is currently in Baghdad, said he had been in touch with staff who had experienced the quake. It left buildings shaking and people running in panic into streets, he said. More than 5,300 were injured across Iran and Iraq.

“We are trying to establish the extent of the damage and loss of life. The area where it happened is relatively remote and so it is likely to take some time to get a picture of the full extent of the damage," Dawes said.

"We know the region has suffered power cuts and reports are coming in of damaged buildings. The housing and buildings in this region are not built to handle massive quakes. They are low quality and made of stone and brick that would easily collapse."

We are deeply concerned for children who would have been at home and in bed at the time the quake struck. We'll be assessing the situation on the ground once daylight comes.

We will be working with the authorities and district emergency responders to find out if and where help is needed and, if the situation demands it, we will assist.

- Ian Dawes, Response Director

World Vision is already in the region responding to the humanitarian needs of vulnerable children and their families and has long experience of responding to humanitarian emergencies caused by earthquakes and other natural disasters.

World Vision currently has 255 staff working for its response across several locations in Iraqi Kurdistan.

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