Iran’s Arak heavy water reactor and production plant containing plutonium suitable for a nuclear bomb in hardest hit area of mag 7.3 quake
- Iran has a number of nuclear sites, which are monitored by the global watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
- The earthquake was felt in several western provinces of Iran, but the hardest hit province was Kermanshah, which is where the Arak heavy water reactor and production plant is situated (see map)
- The head of Iranian Red Crescent said more than 70,000 people were in need of emergency shelter.
More than 300 people were killed in Iran when a magnitude 7.3 earthquake jolted the country on Sunday, state media said, and rescuers were searching for dozens trapped under rubble in the mountainous area.
At least six have died in Iraq as well.
State television said more than 336 people were killed in Iran and at least 3,950 were injured.
Local officials said the death toll would rise as search and rescue teams reached remote areas of Iran. The earthquake was felt in several western provinces of Iran, but the hardest hit province was Kermanshah, which is where the Arak heavy water reactor and production plant is situated.
The existence of a heavy-water facility near the town of Arak first emerged with the publication of satellite images by the US-based Institute for Science and International Security in December 2002. Spent fuel from a heavy-water reactor contains plutonium suitable for a nuclear bomb, according to the BBC.
More than 236 of the victims were in Sarpol-e Zahab county in Kermanshah province, about 15 km (10 miles) from the Iraq border.
Iranian state television said the quake had caused heavy damage in some villages where houses were made of earthen bricks.
Rescuers were laboring to find survivors trapped under collapsed buildings.
The quake also triggered landslides that hindered rescue efforts, officials told state television.