Res­cue ef­forts ended af­ter Iran quake

The Witness - - NEWS -

“Peo­ple in some vil­lages are still in dire need of food, wa­ter and shel­ter.”

ANKARA — 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 said 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 area in 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 whole vil­lages, dam­aged 30 000 houses and left thou­sands of peo­ple in­jured.

Thou­sands of peo­ple hud­dled in makeshift camps while many oth­ers chose to spend a sec­ond night in the open, de­spite low tem­per­a­tures, be­cause they feared more tremors af­ter some 193 af­ter­shocks, state tele­vi­sion said.

A home­less young woman in Sar­pol­e Za­hab, one of the hard­est­hit towns, told state TV that her fam­ily was ex­posed to the night cold be­cause of lack of tents.

“We need help. We need ev­ery­thing. The au­thor­i­ties should speed up their help,” she said.

Tele­vi­sion 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 Lead­ er Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, of­fered his con­do­lences on Mon­day and called on govern­ment agen­cies to do all they could to help.

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

“Peo­ple in some vil­lages are still in dire need of food, wa­ter and shel­ter,” gover­nor of Qasr­e 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 a year old sleep­ing in the cold for two straight 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.

PHOTO: AP

Res­cuers carry away the body of an earth­quake vic­tim in Sar­pol­e­Za­hab in west­ern Iran yes­ter­day. Res­cuers are dig­ging through the de­bris of build­ings felled by the Sun­day earth­quake that killed at least 450 peo­ple, but Ira­nian of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day there was lit­tle chance of find­ing more sur­vivors.

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