Left out in the cold

The Star Malaysia - - World -

Thou­sands of Ira­ni­ans home­less in af­ter­math of quake that has claimed over 500 lives.

TE­HERAN: Tens of thou­sands of Ira­ni­ans spent a sec­ond night in the open air af­ter a 7.3-mag­ni­tude quake struck near the bor­der with Iraq, killing more than 500.

Peo­ple who had fled their homes when the quake rocked the moun­tain­ous re­gion span­ning Iran’s western prov­ince of Ker­man­shah and Iraqi Kur­dis­tan on Sun­day evening, braved chilly tem­per­a­tures as au­thor­i­ties strug­gled to get aid into the quake zone.

Iran has de­clared yes­ter­day 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 firstly tents, wa­ter and food,” said the 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.

The quake killed 530 peo­ple and in­jured 7,460, the state-run IRNA news agency re­ported yes­ter­day.

Most of the in­juries were mi­nor with fewer than 1,000 still hospitalised, Iran’s cri­sis man­age­ment head­quar­ters spokesman Behnam Saeedi told state TV.

AFP, like other for­eign me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions, has not been al­lowed to visit the scene of the dis­as­ter.

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.

IRNA said 30 Red Cres­cent teams had been sent to the area.

Hun­dreds of am­bu­lances and dozens of army he­li­copters were re­ported to have joined the res­cue ef­fort af­ter Ira­nian supreme leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei or­dered the gov­ern­ment and armed forces to mo­bilise “all their means”.

By late Mon­day, of­fi­cials said all the roads in Ker­man­shah prov­ince had been re-opened, although the worst-af­fected town of Sar-e Pol-e Za­hab re­mained with­out elec­tric­ity, said state tele­vi­sion.

At least 280 peo­ple were killed in the town, home to some 85,000 peo­ple. Build­ings stood dis­fig­ured, their for­mer fa­cades now rub­ble on crum­pled ve­hi­cles.

The tremor shook sev­eral western Ira­nian cities in­clud­ing Tabriz and was also felt in south­east­ern Turkey, an AFP cor­re­spon­dent said. In the town of Di­yarbakir, res­i­dents were re­ported to have fled their homes.

Sev­eral vil­lages were to­tally de­stroyed in Iran’s Dala­hoo County, the Tas­nim news agency re­ported.

Five his­tor­i­cal mon­u­ments in Ker­man­shah suf­fered mi­nor dam­age, but the Unesco-listed Be­his­tun in­scrip­tion from the sev­enth cen­tury BC was not af­fected, the ISNA agency said.

Nizar Ab­dul­lah spent Sun­day night with neigh­bours sift­ing through the ruins of a two-storey home.

“There were eight peo­ple in­side,” the 34-year-old Iraqi Kurd said.

Some fam­ily mem­bers es­caped, but “neigh­bours and res­cuers pulled out the mother and one of the chil­dren dead from the rub­ble”.

Newly con­structed build­ings ... held up well, but the old houses built with earth were to­tally de­stroyed.

Ma­jor Gen­eral Mo­ham­mad Ali Ja­fari

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.