Quake sur­vivors spend sec­ond night in open air

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

TEHRAN: 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 400.

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, 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, Ma­jorGen­eral 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 toll in Iran stood at 413 dead and 6,700 in­jured, while across the bor­der in more sparsely pop­u­lated ar­eas of Iraq, the health min­istry said eight peo­ple had died and sev­eral hun­dred were in­jured. Iraq’s Red Cres­cent put the toll at nine dead.

AFP, like other for­eign me­dia, 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.

The of­fi­cial IRNA news agency 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. – AFP

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