Search for quake sur­vivors is called off

Pretoria News - - 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 de­spite the low tem­per­a­tures. 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,” she said.

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,” PirHos­sein 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.

The mayor of Ezgeleh, a city in Ker­man­shah, said 80% of their build­ings had col­lapsed and they des­per­ately needed tents, with el­derly peo­ple and ba­bies as young as 1-year-old sleep­ing in the cold for two con­sec­u­tive nights.

In an in­ter­view with state tele­vi­sion Nazar Barani asked peo­ple to send them fuel, milk, wa­ter and food as emer­gency ser­vices were too slow and pro­vid­ing lim­ited pro­vi­sions.

A lo­cal man told ISNA news agency that “peo­ple are hun­gry and thirsty. There is no elec­tric­ity. Last night I cried when I saw chil­dren with no food or shel­ter”.

More than 30 000 houses were dam­aged and at least two vil­lages de­stroyed, the au­thor­i­ties said.

Houses in Ira­nian vil­lages are of­ten made of con­crete blocks or mud­brick that can crum­ble and col­lapse in a strong quake.

Some peo­ple are an­gry that among the col­lapsed build­ings were houses that the gov­ern­ment has built in re­cent years un­der its af­ford­able-hous­ing pro­gramme.

Photographs posted on Ira­nian news web­sites showed res­cue work­ers dig­ging peo­ple out of col­lapsed build­ings, cars smashed be­neath the rub­ble and res­cue dogs try­ing to find signs of life un­der the twisted re­mains of col­lapsed build­ings.

“More peo­ple will die be­cause of the cold,” said Ro­jan Meshkat, 38, a re­si­di­ent in the Kur­dish city of Sanan­daj. – Reuters

PIC­TURE: AP

Over­come by de­spair, 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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