Quake vic­tims still wait­ing for help

The Timaru Herald - - WORLD -

IRAN/IRAQ: Ira­nian res­cue teams are strug­gling to reach iso­lated vil­lages cut off by land­slides af­ter a 7.3-mag­ni­tude earth­quake killed more than 450 peo­ple and in­jured al­most 7000.

The pow­er­ful earth­quake struck the Iran-Iraq bor­der re­gion, shak­ing the Mid­dle East as far as Is­rael and Tur­key, but the worst of the dev­as­ta­tion hit western Iran.

Iran said at least 450 peo­ple had been killed but the death toll was ex­pected to rise as res­cuers reached more re­mote parts of the moun­tain­ous Ker­man­shah prov­ince. An­other 6700 peo­ple were in­jured.

At least seven peo­ple were killed in Iraq’s Kur­dish re­gion, and more than 300 were re­port­edly taken to hos­pi­tal with in­juries.

The earth­quake was the worst in Iran since 2005, when 612 peo­ple were killed in the coun­try’s south­east.

It was also the dead­li­est earth­quake of 2017, over­tak­ing the 369 peo­ple killed in Mex­ico in Septem­ber.

Iran’s gov­ern­ment has mo­bilised the army, mili­tia forces and the elite Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard Corps to help with re­lief ef­forts, but Pir-Hos­sein Ko­li­vand, head of Iran’s Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices, an­nounced yes­ter­day that res­cue op­er­a­tions in Ker­man­shah prov­ince had ended.

Aid work­ers used res­cue dogs and heat sensors to try to find those trapped inside col­lapsed build­ings, while he­li­copters and heavy con­struc­tion equip­ment were brought in.

At least 14 prov­inces in Iran were af­fected. State tele­vi­sion said thou­sands of peo­ple were hud­dling in makeshift camps, while many oth­ers were spend­ing a sec­ond night in the open for fear of more tremors to come af­ter some 193 af­ter­shocks.

More than 200 peo­ple were re­port­edly killed in Sar­pol-e Za­hab, a city of around 34,000 peo­ple which sits a few kilo­me­tres from the Iraqi bor­der.

Pho­to­graphs from the scene showed build­ings col­lapsed and a mother weep­ing in the street as she held the body of her young daugh­ter. An­other woman and her baby were pulled from rub­ble, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia.

In a video posted on­line yes­ter­day, a res­i­dent said sol­diers were work­ing to help peo­ple with­out gloves or special equip­ment, and there was no sign of res­cue teams.

‘‘There has been no help yet, nei­ther food nor wa­ter, no cloth­ing, no tents, there is noth­ing,’’ said an­other man.

‘‘Our elec­tric­ity, wa­ter, gas, phone lines are out, ev­ery­thing is com­pletely out, the whole city has been de­stroyed.’’

Eshaq Ja­hangiri, one of Iran’s vice-pres­i­dents, said many of the build­ings that col­lapsed had been built un­der the Mehr Hous­ing Project, a gov­ern­ment build­ing pro­gramme cham­pi­oned by Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad, the for­mer pres­i­dent. He said there would be an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the struc­tures, built for poor Ira­ni­ans as a part of Ah­madine­jad’s popu- list do­mes­tic poli­cies.

Bri­tish For­eign Sc­re­tary Boris John­son of­fered ‘‘deep­est con­do­lences’’ to both Iran and Iraq. ‘‘The UK stands ready to help the vic­tims and the re­cov­ery ef­fort,’’ said John­son, who is ex­pected to visit Iran in the com­ing weeks.

Pope Fran­cis and other world lead­ers also sent their sym­pa­thies. ‘‘Upon the in­jured and the emer­gency and civil au­thor­i­ties en­gaged in res­cue and re­cov­ery ef­forts, His Ho­li­ness in­vokes the di­vine bless­ings of con­so­la­tion and strength,’’ a Vat­i­can spokesman said.

The Turk­ish Red Cres­cent said it had dis­patched 33 aid trucks to the Iraqi city of Su­laimaniyah, while Tur­key’s mil­i­tary flew aid and res­cue work­ers into Iraq.

Tur­key said it was also pre­pared to help Iran if aid was re­quested.

The earth­quake struck Iraq’s Kur­dish re­gion just weeks af­ter fight­ing be­tween Iraqi forces and Kur­dish troops. Bagh­dad said it would help all Iraqis, re­gard­less of the re­cent ten­sions.

Sher­wana Cas­tle, a his­toric 18th-cen­tury fortress built by a Kur­dish king, ap­peared to have been badly dam­aged by the quake.

– Tele­graph Group, Reuters

PHOTOS: REUTERS

Men tend to an in­jured woman in the Ira­nian city of Sar­pol-e Za­hab fol­low­ing the 7.3-mag­ni­tude earth­quake that hit the Iran-Iraq bor­der re­gion.

Apart­ments in an earth­quake-dam­aged build­ing in Sar­pol-e Za­hab are left open to the ele­ments.

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