Homes built under Ahmadinejad ‘led to quake deaths’
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