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Columbia man near deadly earthquake shares his experience

A powerful earthquake in Iran left the region devastated. More than 400 were killed, and more than 6,600 were injured. FILE

A powerful earthquake in Iran left the region devastated.

More than 400 were killed, and more than 6,600 were injured. Most of the victims were in the Kerman-Shah Province of western Iran. The 7.3 magnitude quake also claimed lives in northern Iraq.

Rick Baker, originally from Columbia, moved to Baghdad a month ago to be a flight medic in the Middle East.

Baghdad was just 200 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake.

"Last night, we had just landed from a training flight in the Baghdad area and we were in our office finishing up some paperwork and the roof started to rattle,” Baker said. “That's not atypical because we have air force cargo jets that take off but what was atypical was the furniture was starting to move and we have an IV pole with some IV tubing and the tubing started to whip around and it kind of felt like our legs were quivering a little bit as we were standing there in the office. That lasted about a minute or so."

Baker said victims with injuries were staying north.

“The patients that they do have are being kept up north,” Baker said. “There are security concerns about getting American services into that area since it's right on the Iran/Iraq border. It's not a safe place for us to go.”

He said the area where the center of the earthquake hit has a lot of buildings without reinforcements in the center. Baker said even a minimal amount of shaking would cause those buildings to come down.

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