Iran-Iraq quake death toll hits 430

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - WORLD -

SAR­POL- E- ZA­HAB— Res­cuers on Tues­day 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 grim work be­gan in earnest again at dawn in the Kur­dish town of Sar­pol-e-Za­hab in the western Ira­nian prov­ince of Ker­man­shah, which ap­pears to be the hard­est hit in the 7.3mag­ni­tude earth­quake that struck on Sun­day night.

Both res­cuers and lo­cal res­i­dents alike stood atop the re­mains of apart­ment com­plexes, look­ing through the rub­ble.

They used heavy blan­kets to carry away corpses.

Dam­aged hos­pi­tal

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.

Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Hassan Rouhani ar­rived in Ker­man­shah prov­ince on Tues­day to see the dam­age for him­self and of­fer his sup­port to those af­fected.

“This was a pain for all Irani- ans,” 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.”

Many of the heav­ily dam­aged com­plexes in Sar­pol-e-Za­hab were part of con­struc­tion projects un­der for­mer hard­line Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad.

7,460 in­jured

The newly home­less slept out­side in the cold, hud­dled around makeshift fires for warmth.

The quake killed 430 peo­ple in Iran and in­jured 7,460, state me­dia re­ported on Tues­day.

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

The of­fi­cial death toll came from pro­vin­cial foren­sic au­thor­i­ties based on death cer­tifi­cates is­sued.

Some re­ports said unau­tho­rized buri­als with­out cer­ti­fi­ca­tion could mean the death toll was ac­tu­ally higher.

The quake was cen­tered about 31 kilo­me­ters out­side the east­ern Iraqi city of Hal­abja, ac­cord­ing to the US Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey, and struck 3.2 km be­low the sur­face, a some­what shal­low depth that can cause broader dam­age.

Sky­scrapers sway

The quake caused Dubai’s sky­scrapers to sway and could be felt 1,060 km away on the Mediter­ranean coast.

Seven deaths oc­curred in Iraq and 535 peo­ple were in­jured, all in the coun­try’s north­ern, semi­au­tonomous Kur­dish re­gion.

The dis­par­ity in ca­su­alty tolls im­me­di­ately drew ques­tions from Ira­ni­ans, es­pe­cially be­cause so much of the town was new.—

AP

A res­cue worker searches for sur­vivors un­der the de­bris with his sniff­ing dog af­ter a pow­er­ful earth­quake hit the city of Sar­pol-e-Za­hab, Iran, near the Iran-Iraq bor­der late on Sun­day.—

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