Res­cuers search de­bris

The Philippine Star - - WORLD -

SAR­POL-E-ZA­HAB (AP) — Res­cuers 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 grim work be­gan in earnest again at dawn in the Kur­dish town of Sar­pol-eZa­hab in the western Ira­nian prov­ince of Ker­man­shah, which ap­pears to be the hard­est hit in the mag­ni­tude 7.3 earth­quake that struck 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.

The hos­pi­tal in Sar­pol-eZa­hab 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.

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.”

Iran’s For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif of­fered his thanks to for­eign coun­tries of­fer­ing to help, but wrote on Twit­ter: “For now, we are able to man­age with our own re­sources.”

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-eZa­hab 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.

The quake killed 430 peo­ple in Iran and in­jured 7,460, state me­dia re­ported yes­ter­day. Most of the in­juries were mi­nor with fewer than 1,000 still hos­pi­tal­ized, Iran’s cri­sis man­age­ment head­quar­ters spokesman 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 23.2 kilo­me­ters be­low the sur­face, a some­what shal­low depth that can cause broader dam­age. The quake caused Dubai’s sky­scrapers to sway and could be felt 1,060 kilo­me­ters away on the Mediter­ranean coast.

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

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

AP

Res­cuers re­trieve the body of an earth­quake vic­tim in western Iran yes­ter­day.

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