Quake res­cuers dig with bare hands

Arab News - - FRONT PAGE - SUADAD AL-SALHY & MENEKSE TOKYAY

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)

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