Rescue efforts ended after Iran quake
“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.
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.