Quake af­ter­math

Dam­age heavy in Iraq bor­der re­gion; 430 deaths re­ported

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - NASSER KARIMI AND AMIR VAHDAT In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Jon Gam­brell, Su­san­nah Ge­orge, Balint Szlanko, Salar Salim, Zeynep Bil­gin­soy, Zarar Khan, Si­nan Sala­hed­din and Seth Borenstein of The Associated Press.

TEHRAN, Iran — Res­cuers dug with their bare hands Mon­day through the de­bris of build­ings brought down by a pow­er­ful earth­quake that killed more than 400 peo­ple in the once-con­tested moun­tain­ous bor­der re­gion be­tween Iraq and Iran, with nearly all of the vic­tims in an area re­built since the end of the ru­inous 1980s war.

Sun­day night’s mag­ni­tude 7.3 earth­quake struck about 19 miles out­side the east­ern Iraqi city of Hal­abja, ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent mea­sure­ments from the U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey. It hit at 9:48 p.m. Iran time, just as peo­ple were go­ing to bed.

The worst dam­age ap­peared to be in the Kur­dish town of Sar­pol-e-Za­hab in the western Ira­nian prov­ince of Ker­man­shah, which sits in the Za­gros Moun­tains that di­vide Iran and Iraq.

Res­i­dents fled into the streets as the quake struck, with­out time to grab their pos­ses­sions, as apart­ment com­plexes col­lapsed into rub­ble. Out­side walls of some com­plexes were sheared off by the quake, power and wa­ter­lines were sev­ered, and tele­phone ser­vice was dis­rupted.

Res­i­dents dug fran­ti­cally through wrecked build­ings for sur­vivors as they wailed. Fire­fight­ers from Tehran joined other res­cuers in the des­per­ate search, us­ing dogs to in­spect the rub­ble.

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

It also dam­aged an army gar­ri­son and build­ings in the bor­der city, and killed an un­spec­i­fied num­ber of sol­diers, ac­cord­ing to re­ports.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei im­me­di­ately dis­patched all gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary forces to aid those af­fected.

Many of the heav­ily dam­aged com­plexes in Sar­pol-e-Za­hab were part of con­struc­tion projects un­der for­mer hard­line Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad.

The quake killed 430 peo­ple in Iran and in­jured 7,156 oth­ers, Iran’s cri­sis man­age­ment head­quar­ters spokesman Behnam Saeedi told state TV. Most of the in­juries were mi­nor, he said, with fewer than 1,000 still hos­pi­tal­ized.

The semi-of­fi­cial Tas­nim news agency re­ported 445 dead and 7,370 in­jured. There was no im­me­di­ate ex­pla­na­tion of the dis­crep­ancy, although dou­ble-count­ing of vic­tims is com­mon dur­ing such dis­as­ters in Iran.

The of­fi­cial death toll came from pro­vin­cial foren­sic au­thor­i­ties based on death cer­tifi­cates is­sued. Some re­ports said au­thor­i­ties have warned that unau­tho­rized buri­als with­out cer­ti­fi­ca­tion could mean the death toll was ac­tu­ally higher.

In Iraq, the earth­quake killed at least seven peo­ple and in­jured 535 oth­ers, all in the coun­try’s north­ern, semi­au­tonomous Kur­dish re­gion, ac­cord­ing to its In­te­rior Min­istry.

The dis­par­ity in the fa­tal­ity fig­ures im­me­di­ately drew ques­tions from Ira­ni­ans, es­pe­cially be­cause so much of Sar­pol-e-Za­hab was new.

The earth­quake struck 14.4 miles be­low the sur­face, a shal­low depth that can have broader dam­age. Mag­ni­tude 7 earth­quakes on their own are ca­pa­ble of wide­spread, heavy dam­age.

The quake caused Dubai’s sky­scrapers to sway and could be felt 660 miles away on the Mediter­ranean coast. Nearly 120 af­ter­shocks fol­lowed.

Kokab Fard, a 49-year-old housewife in Sar­pol-e-Za­hab, said she fled empty-handed when her apart­ment com­plex col­lapsed.

“Im­me­di­ately af­ter I man­aged to get out, the build­ing col­lapsed,” Fard said. “I have no ac­cess to my be­long­ings.”

Khamenei of­fered his con­do­lences as Pres­i­dent Hassan Rouhani’s of­fice said he would tour the dam­aged ar­eas to­day, which was de­clared a national day of mourn­ing. Au­thor­i­ties also set up re­lief camps, and hun­dreds of peo­ple lined up to do­nate blood in Tehran.

In Iraq, the quake shook build­ings from Ir­bil to the cap­i­tal, Bagh­dad, where peo­ple fled into the streets.

Iraqi seis­mol­o­gist Ab­dul-Karim Ab­dul­lah Taqi, who runs the earth­quake mon­i­tor­ing group at the state-run Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Depart­ment, said the main rea­son for the lower ca­su­alty fig­ure in Iraq was the an­gle and di­rec­tion of the fault line in this par­tic­u­lar quake, as well as the na­ture of the Iraqi ge­o­log­i­cal for­ma­tions that could bet­ter ab­sorb the shocks.

In Dar­bandikhan, Iraq, Amina Mo­hammed said she and her sons es­caped their home as it col­lapsed around them.

“I think it was only God that saved us,” she said. “I screamed to God, and it must have been him to stop the stairs from en­tirely col­laps­ing on us.”

The quake caused vis­i­ble dam­age to a dam at Dar­bandikhan on the Diyala River.

“There are hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal cracks on the road and in the body of the dam, and parts of the dam sank lower,” said Rah­man Hani, the di­rec­tor of the dam.

Turkey dis­patched emer­gency aid to north­ern Iraq as of­fi­cials ex­pressed “deep sad­ness” at the dis­as­ter. Prime Min­is­ter Bi­nali Yildirim said his coun­try acted im­me­di­ately to pro­vide med­i­cal and food aid to north­ern Iraq.

AP/Pouria Pakizeh

Sur­vivors of a deadly earth­quake that shook the Iran-Iraq bor­der warm them­selves in front of de­stroyed build­ings in the city of Sar­pol-e-Za­hab on Mon­day in western Iran.

AP/Ira­nian Stu­dents News Agency/POURIA PAKIZEH

A res­cue worker takes a dog through the de­bris Mon­day in Sar­pol-e-Za­hab, Iran, as they search for sur­vivors of Sun­day’s mag­ni­tude-7.3 earth­quake.

AP/Tas­nim News Agency/FARZAD MENATI

A woman weeps Mon­day near the body of a rel­a­tive who died in Sun­day’s earth­quake in Sar­pol-e-Za­hab, Iran.

SOURCE: AP Tri­bune News Ser­vice

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