Big Res­cue Ef­fort Un­der­way

Fiji Sun - - World News - Feed­back: jy­otip@fi­jisun.com.fj

Ahuge res­cue ef­fort is un­der way af­ter a pow­er­ful earth­quake struck Iran’s moun­tain­ous bor­der with Iraq, killing more than 400 peo­ple and in­jur­ing more than 7000.

Teams are look­ing for sur­vivors trapped in the rub­ble of col­lapsed build­ings.

The quake is the dead­li­est in the world this year.

Most peo­ple who died were in west­ern Iran in Sar­pol-e-Za­hab, a town 15km (10 miles) from the bor­der, and other parts of Ker­man­shah prov­ince.

The town’s main hos­pi­tal was se­verely dam­aged, leav­ing it strug­gling to treat hun­dreds of wounded peo­ple, state TV re­ported. A woman and her baby were pulled alive from rub­ble in the town, Ira­nian me­dia said. Many build­ings in the town ap­pear to have col­lapsed, am­a­teur video posted to Twit­ter by a ra­dio sta­tion showed.

Run­ning wa­ter and elec­tric­ity cut out in some cities, and af­ter build­ings col­lapsed peo­ple were forced to spend hours out­doors in parks or streets in cold weather. Many homes in the pre­dom­i­nantly Kur­dish moun­tain­ous area are made of mud bricks and are vul­ner­a­ble in quakes as large as Sun­day’s.

“We need shel­ter,” a man in Sar­pol-e-- Za­hab told state TV. “Where is the aid? Where is the help?” One aid agency said 70,000 peo­ple needed shel­ter af­ter the quake, and there were re­ports that thou­sands of peo­ple were fac­ing a sec­ond night in the cold as dusk fell. The UN said it was “ready to as­sist if re­quired” in a state­ment from a spokesper­son for the sec­re­tary-gen­eral.

Ira­nian of­fi­cials said 413 peo­ple had died in the coun­try. Some soldiers and bor­der guards were among the dead, the Ira­nian army’s com­man­der-in-chief told the state news chan­nel IRINN.

In Iraq nine peo­ple died, a Red Cres­cent spokesper­son told the BBC.

A UN of­fice in the coun­try said more than 500 peo­ple were in­jured there, and the earth­quake was felt in Ir­bil, Su­laimaniya, Kirkuk and Basra as well as the cap­i­tal, Bagh­dad.

Land­slides have made it harder for res­cuers to reach those af­fected in ru­ral ar­eas, and there are fears a dam could burst af­ter it was dam­aged by the earth­quake. Peo­ple liv­ing nearby have re­port­edly been asked to leave.

The quake hit at 21:18 lo­cal time (18:18 GMT) about 30km (19 miles) south of Dar­bandikhan, near the north-east­ern bor­der with Iran, the US Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey (USGS) said.

More than 1.8 mil­lion peo­ple live within 100km of the epi­cen­tre, the UN es­ti­mates.

The earth­quake struck at a rel­a­tively shal­low depth of 23.2 km, and tremors were felt in Tur­key, Is­rael and Kuwait.

In 2003, a 6.6-mag­ni­tude quake de­stroyed the his­toric city of Bam in south-east Iran, killing 26,000 peo­ple.

Sun­day’s quake is the dead­li­est to hit Iran since 2012. But it is only the sixth earth­quake of mag­ni­tude-7.0 or more in 2017 – there were 16 strong quakes last year and 19 the year be­fore.

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