Iran quake survivors plead for help as toll rises

Geneva Matthews
November 15, 2017

At least 530 people were killed in Iran's deadliest quake in more than a decade, state news agency IRNA reported yesterday, adding that more than 8,000 others were injured, according to Reuters.

Around 15,500 Iranian homes have been destroyed and another 15,000 damaged in the quake, according to official estimates. The casualties and damage were limited to only Iran and Iraq, though.

Iranian athletes are closing ranks to help the quake victims in the western Kermanshah Province.

Yesterday, Iranian officials said they were setting up relief camps for the displaced and that 22,000 tents, 52,000 blankets and tonnes of food and water had been distributed. "You can hear children crying, it's too cold. They are holding on to their parents to warm themselves - it's pretty bad", he complained.

The region has regular earthquakes and last night's struck along a 930-mile fault line between the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates, which runs through western Iran and into Iraq's northeast. It was one of the strongest on earth this year as well as the deadliest. "Please help us. I plead with the people of Iran for help", he said. Instead, people were having to trek to the other side of town to get water from a tank.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif thanked foreign countries offering to help but wrote on Twitter: "For now, we are able to manage with our own resources".

One aid agency said 70,000 people needed shelter and the United Nations said it was "ready to assist if required".

In a statement, the Iranian government expressed sympathy with the bereaved families of the victims and declared Tuesday as a day of mourning across the country.

Rescuers used backhoes and other heavy equipment to dig through toppled buildings in Sarpol-e-Zahab, home to more than half of the dead.

Across the border in more sparsely populated areas of Iraq, the health ministry said eight people had died and several hundred were injured.

A resident, Khosrow, told BBC Persian: "Walls have fallen on my sisters and father".

She said now that rescue operations had ended, the priority was getting people into shelters as quickly as possible, and that the delivery of aid was on track.

He added that "psychological support teams" had been sent to these areas.

Hundreds of ambulances and dozens of army helicopters were reported to have joined the rescue effort after supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the government and armed forces to mobilise "all their means".

The official IRNA news agency said 30 Red Crescent teams had been sent to the area.

An Iranian-born Kurdish weightlifter on Tuesday said he will auction his Olympic gold medal to raise money for victims of Sunday night's devastating quake that hit the border areas between the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhelat).

Other reports by VideoGamingPros

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