Iran launches probe into collapsed homes
PRESIDENT Hassan Rouhani has launched an investigation into why government housing built by his predecessor collapsed while others withstood an earthquake near the border with Iraq that killed hundreds of people.
In the Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab, which was reconstructed in the decades since the 1980s war with Iraq, the outer walls of building complexes tumbled away in the magnitude 7.3 earthquake on Sunday night. The housing was built as part of the Mehr – “kindness” – project of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Some now-homeless survivors simply wept outside while others angrily showed Associated Press journalists the destruction done by the quake.
“Other buildings near our apartment are not damaged as much because they were built privately,” said Ferdows Shahbazi, 42, who lived in one of the Mehr buildings.
Rescuers used heavy equipment to dig through toppled buildings in Sarpol-eIRANIAN Zahab. The apartment complexes sit next to lush pastures in the almost entirely Kurdish province of Kermanshah, along the border with Iraq.
The quake badly damaged the town’s hospital, forcing the army to set up field clinics. The quake also reportedly killed an unspecified number of soldiers in an army garrison.
Aside from the 530 people killed in Iran, 7,817 were injured.
Health minister Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi, who visited Kermanshah on Tuesday, warned the death toll probably would rise.
Mr Rouhani inspected the damage in the province and offered his support.
“This was a pain for all Iranians,” he 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.”