Iran, Iraq quake death toll hits 5o0

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - World News -

TEHRAN. — Ira­nian of­fi­cials have raised the death toll from Sun­day’s earth­quake of 7.3 mag­ni­tude on its bor­der with Iraq to at least 530, mak­ing it the dead­li­est in the world this year.

The coun­try’s pres­i­dent, Has­san Rouhani, trav­elled yes­ter­day to Ker­man­shah, the area hard­est hit by the earth­quake, which was felt hun­dreds of miles away in both Tehran and Bagh­dad.

Of­fi­cials in Iran de­clared yes­ter­day as a na­tional day of mourn­ing and news­pa­pers broke with tra­di­tion to pub­lish their front page head­lines in the Kur­dish lan­guage, in a rare move show­ing sol­i­dar­ity with the ma­jor­ity-Kur­dish ar­eas worst af­fected.

“Iran wept”, read the front page of Aftab-e-Yazd, over a big photo of an Ira­nian woman hold­ing a lost fam­ily mem­ber in her arms. “Ker­man­shah, you are not alone,” read the re­formist Etemaad’s head­line.

Mo­ham­mad-Ali Mon­shizadeh, an of­fi­cial from Ker­man­shah prov­ince, told the Irna state news agency: “Up to now, we have is­sued 430 death cer­tifi­cates . . . but an es­ti­mated num­ber of 100 to 150 more peo­ple have been buried in quake-stricken vil­lages and towns with­out per­mis­sion . . . which raises the over­all death toll to be­tween 530 to 580 in Ker­man­shah.”

At least 7 460 peo­ple were in­jured dur­ing the earth­quake, which hit seven big cities and 1 950 vil­lages in the prov­ince. Of­fi­cials said 12 000 houses had been com­pletely de­stroyed and a fur­ther 15 000 dam­aged, Irna re­ported.

Iran strug­gled to shel­ter all those af­fected on Mon­day night as thou­sands were forced to sleep in the open air with­out elec­tric­ity or wa­ter sup­plies. “We are liv­ing in a tent and we don’t have enough food or wa­ter,” Ali Gu­lani, 42, from Qasr-e-Shirin, told BBC’s Per­sian ser­vice.

“You can hear chil­dren cry­ing; it’s too cold. They are hold­ing on to their par­ents to warm them­selves — it’s pretty bad.”

More than 316 peo­ple were killed in the town of Sar­pol-e Za­hab alone, about 10 miles from the Iraqi bor­der. At least 28 peo­ple were also re­ported to have been killed in Qasr-e-Shirin, an­other city in Ker­man­shah that serves as a gate­way for trade be­tween Iran and Iraq.

A res­i­dent, Khos­row, told BBC Per­sian: “Walls have fallen on my sis­ters and fa­ther. I had to drag them out of the house. My mother is in­jured. My aunt, cousin and my cousin’s chil­dren died.”

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