Earth­quake af­ter­math

Pres­i­dent sends con­do­lences to Iran, Iraq fol­low­ing dis­as­ter

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping on Tues­day sent con­do­lences to his Ira­nian and Iraqi coun­ter­parts over a mas­sive earth­quake near the Iran-Iraq bor­der area on Sun­day, and pledged stead­fast sup­port to the two na­tions.

A dev­as­tat­ing mag­ni­tude 7.3 earth­quake struck on Sun­day, caus­ing the deaths of at least 530 peo­ple while in­jur­ing more than 8,000 oth­ers, with more still buried in ruins.

In mes­sages of con­do­lences sent re­spec­tively to Ira­nian Pres­i­dent, Hassan Rouhani and Iraqi pres­i­dent, Fuad Ma­sum, Xi said that he was shocked at the strong earth­quake that caused heavy causal­i­ties and prop­erty losses in the two coun­tries.

On be­half of the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment and peo­ple, as well as in his own name, Xi ex­tended his deep con­do­lences to the vic­tims and of­fered sin­cere sym­pa­thies to those in­jured and fam­i­lies of the vic­tims in the mes­sages.

Xi also ex­pressed his be­lief that the Ira­nian and Iraqi peo­ple, un­der the lead­er­ship of their pres­i­dents as well as their gov­ern­ments, will over­come the dis­as­ter and re­build their home­land.

The Chi­nese peo­ple stood firmly with the Ira­nian peo­ple dur­ing this dif­fi­cult time, Xi said.

The epi­cen­ter of the quake was lo­cated about 30 kilo­me­ters south of the city of Hal­abja in a re­mote moun­tain­ous re­gion of east­ern Iraq, some 200 km north­east of Bagh­dad and 400 km west of Te­heran, ac­cord­ing to the United States Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey.

At least 14 prov­inces in Iran were af­fected by the tremor, in­clud­ing the cap­i­tal city of Te­heran. The worst-hit ar­eas were Qasr-e Shirin and Sar­pol-e Za­hab coun­ties in Ker­man­shah prov­ince, about 20 km from the bor­der.

The earth­quake and af­ter­shakes with the mag­ni­tude vary­ing from 4.5 to 6.1 were felt in Turkey, Ar­me­nia, Saudi Ara­bia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emi­rates.

Iran has de­clared Tues­day a national day of mourn­ing as of­fi­cials out­lined the most press­ing pri­or­i­ties and de­scribed the lev­els of de­struc­tion in some parts as “to­tal”.

“Peo­ple’s im­me­di­ate needs are tents, wa­ter and food,” said head of Iran’s elite Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards, Ma­jor Gen­eral Mo­ham­mad Ali Ja­fari.

“Newly con­structed build­ings ... held up well, but the old houses built with earth were to­tally de­stroyed,” he told state tele­vi­sion dur­ing a visit to the af­fected re­gion.

Top­pled build­ings

On Tues­day, res­cuers used back­hoes and heavy equip­ment to dig through the de­bris of top­pled build­ings.

Both res­cuers and lo­cal res­i­dents alike stood atop the re­mains of apart­ment com­plexes, look­ing through the rub­ble. They used heavy blan­kets to carry away corpses.

The hos­pi­tal in Sar­pol-e-Za­hab was heav­ily dam­aged, and the army set up field hos­pi­tals, although many of the in­jured were moved to other cities, in­clud­ing Te­heran.

Pres­i­dent Rouhani ar­rived in Ker­man­shah on Tues­day to see the dam­age.

“This was a pain for all Ira­ni­ans. Rep­re­sent­ing the na­tion of Iran, I of­fer my con­do­lences to the peo­ple of Ker­man­shah, and tell them that all of us are be­hind Ker­man­shah,” he said.

Of­fi­cials said they were set­ting up re­lief camps for the dis­placed and that 22,000 tents, 52,000 blan­kets and tonnes of food and wa­ter had been dis­trib­uted. The of­fi­cial IRNA news agency said 30 Red Cres­cent teams had been sent to the area.

As one of the most seis­mi­cally ac­tive coun­tries in the world, Iran is crossed by sev­eral ma­jor fault lines that cover at least 90 per­cent of the coun­try.

On the side of Iraq, the quake has led to the deaths of six peo­ple in Su­laimaniyah prov­ince and the in­juries of more than 150 oth­ers.

The tremor was felt in many Iraqi prov­inces in the north and cen­tral re­gions, in­clud­ing the cap­i­tal city of Bagh­dad, wit­nesses said.

Dead­li­est earth­quakes of last decade

SHWAN MO­HAMMED / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Peo­ple gather around a lev­eled build­ing in the moun­tain­ous town of Dar­bandikhan in Iraqi Kur­dis­tan on Mon­day, fol­low­ing a mag­ni­tude 7.3 quake that hit the Iraq-Iran bor­der area.

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