▶ Thou­sands of peo­ple left home­less and oth­ers spent a sec­ond night in the open for fear of more tremors

The National - News - - NEWS -

Iran yes­ter­day called off res­cue op­er­a­tions af­ter a pow­er­ful week­end earth­quake killed at least 450 peo­ple and in­jured thou­sands.

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

The 7.3-mag­ni­tude earth­quake on Sun­day struck vil­lages and towns in the moun­tain­ous area of Ker­man­shah prov­ince bor­der­ing Iraq while many peo­ple were at home asleep. At least 14 prov­inces in Iran were af­fected.

Thou­sands hud­dled in makeshift camps while many oth­ers spent a sec­ond night in the open for fear of more tremors af­ter more than 190 af­ter­shocks.

A home­less young woman in the hard-hit town of Sar­pol-e Sa­hab said that her fam­ily was ex­posed to the cold night be­cause there were no more tents.

“It is a very cold night,” she said. “We need help. We need ev­ery­thing. The au­thor­i­ties should speed up their help.”

Iran’s supreme leader, Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, of­fered his con­do­lences on Mon­day and called on gov­ern­ment agen­cies to do all they could to help those af­fected.

Ira­nian po­lice, the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard and its af­fil­i­ated Basij mili­tia forces were sent to af­fected ar­eas on Sun­day night. Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani was to visit the area yes­ter­day.

Work­ers combed through the rub­ble of dozens of vil­lages af­ter the quake, as res­cue dogs sniffed for signs of life un­der col­lapsed build­ings.

But Ira­nian of­fi­cials said the chances of find­ing any more sur­vivors were ex­tremely low.

Hos­pi­tals in nearby prov­inces took in many of the in­jured, while hun­dreds of crit­i­cally hurt peo­ple were sent to hos­pi­tals in Tehran.

Iran’s Red Cres­cent said emer­gency shel­ters had been given to thou­sands of home­less peo­ple, but lack of wa­ter and elec­tric­ity, as well as blocked roads in some ar­eas, hin­dered aid sup­ply ef­forts.

Au­thor­i­ties said chaos on roads, caused by peo­ple from nearby prov­inces who were rush­ing to help, fur­ther ham­pered the flow of aid to quake­hit ar­eas.

“Peo­ple in some vil­lages are still in dire need of food, wa­ter and shel­ter,” said Fara­marz Ak­bari, the gov­er­nor of Qasr-e Shirin. More than 30,000 houses in the area were dam­aged and at least two vil­lages were com­pletely de­stroyed, Ira­nian au­thor­i­ties said.

Houses in Ira­nian vil­lages are of­ten made of con­crete blocks or mud brick, which can crum­ble and col­lapse in a strong quake.

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

“My fam­ily lives in a vil­lage near Sar­pol-e Za­hab. I can­not even go there. I don’t know whether they are dead or alive.”

Iran is crossed with ma­jor fault lines and has suf­fered dev­as­tat­ing earth­quakes in re­cent years, in­clud­ing a 6.6-mag­ni­tude quake in 2003 that de­stroyed the south-east­ern city of Bam and killed about 31,000 peo­ple.

The lat­est quake, cen­tred in Pen­jwin in Iraq’s Su­laimaniyah prov­ince in the Kur­dis­tan re­gion, killed at least six peo­ple in Iraq and in­jured more than 68 oth­ers. In north­ern Iraq’s Kur­dish dis­tricts, seven were killed and 325 in­jured.

Sur­vivors yes­ter­day carry be­long­ings saved from build­ings de­stroyed by Sun­day’s earth­quake

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