Death count in Iran quake reaches 430
RESCUE workers yesterday used backhoes and heavy equipment to dig through the debris of buildings toppled by a powerful earthquake on the border between Iran and Iraq, with weeping women crying out to god as aid workers found new bodies.
The quake killed 430 people and injured 7,460, Iran’s state media 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.
The grim rescue work resumed at dawn in the Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah, the hardest hit by the magnitude 7.3 earthquake that struck Sunday night.
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 Tehran.
The quake also damaged an army garrison and buildings in the border city and killed an unspecified number of soldiers, according to reports.
Iran’s Red Crescent also said it worried about more bodies in rural villages, though it said the rescue operations in larger towns could end soon.
President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Kermanshah province yesterday to see the damage for himself and offer his support to those affected.
“This was a pain for all Iranians,” Rouhani said, according to a statement on the presidency’s website. “Representing the nation of Iran, I offer my condolences to the people of Kermanshah, and tell them that all of us are behind Kermanshah.”
Cleric Abdolhossein Moezi, a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who also is touring the area, said there was a need for more relief material and “security.”
Many of the heavily damaged complexes in Sarpol-e-Zahab were part of construction projects under former hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The newly homeless slept outside in cold, huddled around makeshift fires for warmth.
Iran sits on many major fault lines and is prone to near-daily quakes. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people. In 2012, a major casualty earthquake killed over 300. – AP