Homes built un­der Ah­madine­jad ‘led to quake deaths’

The Daily Telegraph - - World news - By Raf Sanchez MID­DLE EAST COR­RE­SPON­DENT

IRAN’S pres­i­dent promised yes­ter­day to “iden­tify the cul­prits” if it emerged that poorly-built homes con­structed dur­ing his pre­de­ces­sor’s pop­ulist hous­ing pro­gramme had con­trib­uted to the 530 deaths caused by Sun­day’s 7.3 mag­ni­tude earth­quake.

As western Iran con­tin­ued to reel from the dis­as­ter, Has­san Rouhani said the gov­ern­ment would look into the Mehr hous­ing project, which was cham­pi­oned by Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad, the hard­line for­mer pres­i­dent.

It in­volved two mil­lion homes be­ing built through­out Iran but sev­eral of those apart­ments col­lapsed in the city of Sar­pol-e Za­hab, where around half of the fa­tal­i­ties were re­ported.

“Be­fore its 10-year an­niver­sary, Mehr build­ings have turned into coffins for its in­hab­i­tants,” wrote the Fararu news site, which is aligned with Mr Rouhani and the re­formist wing of Ira­nian pol­i­tics.

Dur­ing a visit to the dev­as­tated Ker­man­shah prov­ince, Mr Rouhani promised the “gov­ern­ment will def­i­nitely fol­low up on these is­sues and iden­tify the cul­prits”.

He said: “The faults and short­com­ings in the con­struc­tion of these build- ings should be in­ves­ti­gated.” There was no im­me­di­ate re­sponse from Mr Ah­madine­jad, who left of­fice in 2013.

At least 7,460 peo­ple were in­jured, 12,000 houses were de­stroyed and a fur­ther 15,000 dam­aged, Irna news agency re­ported.

The ma­jor­ity of the dead were Kur­dish speak­ers and sev­eral Ira­nian news­pa­pers car­ried front pages in Kur­dish in­stead of Farsi in a show of sol­i­dar­ity.

Seven peo­ple were killed on the Iraqi side of the bor­der and en­gi­neer­ing teams ex­am­ined cracks in the Dar­bandikhan Dam, al­though the dam’s di­rec­tor said so far there was no sign of wa­ter leak­age.

Res­cue worker and his sniff­ing dog in Sar­pol-e Za­hab, Iran

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