Search for sur­vivors called off

Cape Argus - - WORLD -

TEHRAN: Ira­nian of­fi­cials said there was lit­tle chance of find­ing more sur­vivors from the earth­quake that shook parts of western Iran on Sun­day, killing at least 450 peo­ple, and res­cue op­er­a­tions had now been called off, state tele­vi­sion re­ported yes­ter­day.

Sur­vivors, many left home­less by the 7.3 mag­ni­tude earth­quake that struck vil­lages and towns in a moun­tain­ous area bor­der­ing Iraq, bat­tled overnight tem­per­a­tures just above freez­ing and faced an­other bleak day yes­ter­day in need of food and wa­ter.

Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani ar­rived in the morn­ing in the stricken Ker­man­shah prov­ince and promised that the gov­ern­ment would “use all its power to re­solve the prob­lems in the short­est time”.

At least 14 prov­inces in Iran were af­fected by the quake which de­stroyed two vil­lages, dam­aged 30 000 houses and left thou­sands in­jured. Thou­sands of peo­ple hud­dled in makeshift camps, while many oth­ers chose to spend a sec­ond night in the open. They said they feared more tremors, af­ter some 193 af­ter­shocks were reg­is­tered.

A home­less young woman in Sar­pol-e Za­hab, one of the hard­est-hit towns, told state TV that her fam­ily was ex­posed to the night cold be­cause of the lack of tents.

“We need help. We need ev­ery­thing… The au­thor­i­ties should speed up their help.”

Tele­vi­sion footage showed res­cue work­ers comb­ing through the rub­ble of dozens of vil­lages, im­me­di­ately af­ter the quake. But Ira­nian of­fi­cials said chances of find­ing any more sur­vivors were re­mote.

“The res­cue op­er­a­tions in Ker­man­shah prov­ince have ended,” Pir-Hos­sein Ko­li­vand, head of Iran’s emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices, said.

Iran’s top au­thor­ity, Supreme Leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, of­fered his con­do­lences on Mon­day and called on gov­ern­ment agen­cies to do all they could to help.

The Ira­nian army, the elite Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards and its af­fil­i­ated Basij mili­tia forces were dis­patched to af­fected ar­eas on Sun­day night.

Hos­pi­tals in nearby prov­inces took in many of the in­jured, state tele­vi­sion said, air­ing footage of sur­vivors wait­ing to be treated. Hun­dreds of crit­i­cally in­jured were trans­ferred to hos­pi­tals in Tehran.

Iran’s Red Cres­cent said emer­gency shel­ter had been pro­vided for thou­sands of home­less peo­ple, but the lack of wa­ter and elec­tric­ity as well as blocked roads in some places hin­dered aid sup­ply ef­forts.

“Peo­ple in some vil­lages are still in dire need of food, wa­ter and shel­ter,” the gov­er­nor of Qasr-e Shirin, Fara­marz Ak­bari, said.

PIC­TURE: AP

A cou­ple sits yes­ter­day in front of a house de­stroyed in the earth­quake in Sar­pol-e-Za­hab in western Iran. The au­thor­i­ties have called off res­cue op­er­a­tions, say­ing the chances of find­ing any­one alive af­ter Sun­day’s deadly earth­quake in the bor­der re­gion of Iran and Iraq were re­mote.

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