Women call out for God as dead pulled from earth­quake rub­ble

● Death toll from quake rises to 530 ● Tremors made Dubai tow­ers sway

The Scotsman - - World News - By NASSER KARIMI and MO­HAM­MAD NASIRI

Res­cuers have used ex­ca­va­tors and heavy equip­ment to dig through the de­bris of build­ings top­pled by a pow­er­ful earth­quake on the bor­der be­tween Iran and Iraq that killed more than 530 peo­ple, with weep­ing women cry­ing out to God as aid work­ers found new bod­ies.

The grim work started in earnest yes­ter­day at dawn in the Kur­dish town of Sar­pole-za­hab in the western Ira­nian prov­ince of Ker­man­shah, which ap­pears to be the hard­est hit by the mag­ni­tude 7.3 earth­quake.

Ker­man­shah, an al­most en­tirely Kur­dish prov­ince nes­tled in the Za­gros Moun­tains run­ning along the bor­der with Iraq, suf­fered all of Iran’s fa­tal­i­ties from the dis­as­ter on Sun­day night that shook 14 of the coun­try’s 31 prov­inces. Both res­cuers and res­i­dents alike stood atop the re­mains of apart­ment com­plexes look­ing through the rub­ble. They used heavy blan­kets to carry away corpses.

The hospi­tal in Sar­pol-eza­hab was heav­ily dam­aged. The army set up field hospi­tals, al­though many of the in­jured were moved to other cities, in­clud­ing Tehran.

The quake also dam­aged an army gar­ri­son and build­ings in the bor­der city and killed an un­spec­i­fied num­ber of sol­diers.

There were fears more dead could be found in the rub­ble in Sar­pol-e-za­hab and other ru­ral vil­lages of Ker­man­shah prov­ince.

Mo­ham­mad Ali Mon­shizadeh, a spokesman for the pro­vin­cial foren­sic de­part­ment, said as many as 150 peo­ple had been buried by fam­ily mem­bers af­ter the earth­quake in re­mote vil­lages who had not been counted in the of­fi­cial death toll.

Pres­i­dent Hassan Rouhani ar­rived in Ker­man­shah prov­ince yes­ter­day to see the dam­age for him­self.

“This was a pain for all Ira­ni­ans,” Mr Rouhani said. “Rep­re­sent­ing the na­tion of Iran, I of­fer my con­do­lences to the peo­ple of Ker­man­shah and tell them that all of us are be­hind Ker­man­shah.”

Iran’s for­eign min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif of­fered his thanks to for­eign coun­tries of­fer­ing to help, but wrote on Twit­ter: “For now, we are able to man­age with our own re­sources.”

Cleric Ab­dol­hos­sein Moezi said there was a need for more re­lief ma­te­rial and “se­cu­rity.” That sen­ti­ment was echoed by Nazar Barani, the mayor of the town of Ezgeleh. He told state TV his con­stituency still had a “deep need” for food, medicine and tents. Mr Barani said 80 per cent of the build­ings in the town had been dam­aged by the quake.

Many of the heav­ily dam­aged com­plexes in Sar­pol-eza­hab were part of con­struc­tion projects un­der for­mer hard-line pres­i­dent mah moud Ah­madine­jad. The newly home­less slept out­side in the cold, hud­dled around make- shift fires for warmth. An es­ti­mated 7,460 peo­ple were also in­jured in Iran.

Most of the in­juries were mi­nor with fewer than 1,000 still hos­pi­talised.

The quake was cent red about 19 miles out­side the eastern Iraqi city of Hal­abja and struck 14 miles be­low the sur­face, a some­what shal­low depth that can cause broader dam­age. The quake caused Dubai’s sky­scrapers to sway and could be felt 660 miles away on the Mediter­ranean coast.

Seven deaths oc­curred in Iraq and 535 peo­ple were in­jured, all in the coun­try’s north­ern Kur­dish re­gion. The dis­par­ity in ca­su­alty tolls im­me­di­ately drew ques­tions from Ira­ni­ans, es­pe­cially be­cause so much of the town was new.

Sar­pol-e-za­hab fell to the troops of Iraqi dic­ta­tor Sad­dam Hus­sein dur­ing his 1980 in­va­sion of Iran, which sparked the eight-year war be­tween the two coun­tries that killed one mil­lion peo­ple. The area was clawed back by Iran, but re­mained a war zone that suf­fered through Sad­dam’s mis­sile at­tacks.

PIC­TURE: AP

0 Res­cuers carry away the body of an earth­quake vic­tim in the Kur­dish town of Sar­pol-e-za­hab in the western Ira­nian prov­ince of Ker­man­shah

0 A crushed car is moved dur­ing the search for sur­vivors

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