DEATH TOLL CROSSES 530, RES­CUE WORK­ERS RE­SUME HUNT FOR MORE SUR­VIVORS

Millennium Post - - FRONT PAGE -

BAGH­DAD: Ira­ni­ans dug through rub­ble in a fran­tic search for sur­vivors on Mon­day, af­ter a pow­er­ful earthquake struck near the Iraqi bor­der, killing more than 500 peo­ple and in­jur­ing thou­sands of oth­ers in the world’s dead­li­est earthquake so far this year.

The quake, recorded at 9:18 pm on Sun­day, was felt as far away as Turkey and Pak­istan. The epi­cen­ter was near Ezgeleh, Iran, about 135 miles north­east of Bagh­dad, and had a pre­lim­i­nary mag­ni­tude of 7.3, ac­cord­ing to the United States Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey. Seis­mol­o­gists in the coun­try said it was the big­gest quake to hit the western part of Iran.

Pho­to­graphs from the re­gion — a patch­work of farms and home to many Kurds, a large eth­nic mi­nor­ity in Iran — posted on the in­ter­net showed col­lapsed build­ings, cars de­stroyed by rub­ble and peo­ple sleep­ing in the streets in fear of af­ter­shocks.

At least 500 peo­ple were killed and 7,370 peo­ple were in­jured in Iran, ac­cord­ing to the semi-of­fi­cial Tas­nim news agency, which gave an es­ti­mate sig­nif­i­cantly higher than the death toll of 407 that of­fi­cials had an­nounced ear­lier.

At least eight peo­ple were killed on the Iraqi side of the bor­der, ac­cord­ing to Dr. Saif al-badir, a spokesman for the Health Min­istry, and at least 535 were hurt.

In Tehran, hun­dreds of peo­ple waited in line to do­nate blood in re­sponse to a call from the gov­ern- ment. Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, de­liv­ered a mes­sage of con­do­lence on Mon­day, urg­ing res­cue work­ers to keep search­ing for sur­vivors.

“The of­fi­cials should has­ten in these first hours with all their might and de­ter­mi­na­tion to help the in­jured, es­pe­cially those trapped un­der the rub­ble,” his of­fice re­ported.

By the evening, how­ever, Ira­nian of­fi­cials said that the res­cue mis­sion was nearly over, ac­cord­ing to the state news me­dia.

Par­tic­u­larly hard hit was Pol-e Za­hab, a city in the western Ira­nian prov­ince of Ker­man­shah, ac­cord­ing to the semiof­fi­cial Ira­nian Stu­dents News Agency. The au­thor­i­ties said that at least 236 peo­ple had died in the city, which has a pop­u­la­tion of 30,000, and the main hos­pi­tal was be­lieved to be at least partly run­ning.

“My friend was scream­ing, say­ing, ‘I lost my home,’ ” one res­i­dent wrote on Twit­ter. “Thank God, she and her fam­ily are do­ing well. She said peo­ple were only mourn­ing and their loved ones were un­der the rub­ble.”

Of­fi­cials from the Health Min­istry trav­eled to the area, as did the com­man­der in chief of the Is­lamic Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards Corps, Brig. Gen. Mo­hammed Ali Ja­fari, but for­eign re­porters were not al­lowed to visit the scene, in a change from pre­vi­ous dis­as­ters.

Ini­tial re­ports from the Kur­dish re­gion of Iraq in­di­cated less dam­age and fewer deaths on that side of the bor­der. In Su­laimaniya, the sec­ond­largest city in Iraq’s Kur­dish re­gion, res­i­dents de­scribed feel­ing heavy tremors but said there was no no­table build­ing dam­age.

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