Quake rescuers dig with bare hands
JEDDAH/BAGHDAD/ANKARA: Rescuers dug with their bare hands on Monday through the debris of buildings brought down by a powerful earthquake in the mountainous border region between Iraq and Iran that killed more than 400 people and injured up to 2,000.
The epicenter of the magnitude 7.3 earthquake was about 31km outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja. It struck at 9.48 p.m. Iran time on Sunday, just as many people were going to bed.
Iraq recorded more than 60 aftershocks following the quake.
The Saudi Ambassador to Iraq, Abdul Aziz Al-Shamari, said all the Saudi Embassy staff and citizens in Iraq were safe and accounted for.
He said the embassy’s building in Baghdad’s Green Zone suffered minor damage. The building
Ohad been evacuated until its safety was assured, he said.
Cracks appeared in the Darbandikhan Dam on the Diyala River in northern Sulaymaniyah governorate, but the local mayor said the risk of its collapse was “remote.”
“The situation is under control now but there is a fear of aftershocks, as many of the houses are located beneath the dam,” Nasseh Mulla Hassan, the mayor, told Arab News on Monday.
“The technical committee sent by Baghdad today to examine the dam showed that the quake caused damage, but there is no risk of its collapse at the moment.”
Other dams in Iraq were also damaged, but Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s office said: “The dams are safe and there is no danger.”
Turkish aid agencies, including the Red Crescent and the state-run Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD),
Orushed to offer their assistance and cooperate in search-and-rescue efforts.
The Turkish Red Crescent immediately sent about 3,000 tents, 10,000 blankets, 10,000 beds and 3,000 heaters, in cooperation with its counterparts in Iraq and Iran. AFAD dispatched 5,000 tents, 7,000 blankets, 92 personnel and 11 vehicles. A donation campaign has also been initiated in Turkey, where contributors can send an SMS message to 2868.
“This is the day to pull up who has fallen and demonstrate humanity,” said Kerem Kinik, president of the Turkish Red Crescent.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered condolences to the victims of the earthquake.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu pointed to Turkish assistance to the “brotherly victims of the quake.”
Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi, head of the Maronite Church, addresses the media at the Lebanese Embassy in Riyadh on Monday. (AN photo by Iqbal Hossain)