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Iran quake victims battle freezing cold

Updated November 15, 2017
A BOY rides a bicycle through the rubble near damaged buildings in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab, Kermanshah province, on Tuesday.—AFP
A BOY rides a bicycle through the rubble near damaged buildings in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab, Kermanshah province, on Tuesday.—AFP

SARPOL-E ZAHAB: Thousands of Iranians prepared on Tuesday to spend a third night in the cold as authorities scrambled to help those made homeless by a major earthquake that killed more than 400.

As the country marked a day of mourning, President Hassan Rouhani promised swift help following the 7.3-

magnitude quake that struck a mountainous region spanning the Iran-Iraq border late Sunday.

Volunteers also rushed to help after thousands of homes were destroyed in the quake which rocked a region extending across Iran’s western province of Kermanshah and neighbouring Iraqi Kurdistan.

But some victims said not enough was being done. “We have been here for two days with nothing. We have no tents, no blankets,” said one young resident of Sarpol-e Zahab, the city most affected by the disaster.

The quake left at least 432 dead in Iran, all in the Kermanshah province, and eight in Iraq.

Several buildings and houses lay in complete ruins, while others stood disfigured. Some structures appeared unscathed.

Rescue workers with sniffer dogs combed the ruins for survivors after at least 280 people were killed in the town of some 85,000 people. “What we need is a tent and covers to be able to get through the night,” said 24-year-old mother Shima Maryami Kiani.

Rouhani landed by helicopter in the city of Kermanshah and promised the government would move swiftly to help those left homeless.

“I want to assure those who are suffering that the government has begun to act with all means at its disposal and is scrambling to resolve this problem as quickly as possible,” he said.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2017