World

Iranians plead for food and shelter from cold

7.3-magnitude quake in Iran kills 530 people, leaves thousands struggling

ANKARA: Rescue operations have ended in areas of Iran hit by a powerful weekend earthquake that killed at least 530 people and injured more than 8,000, state television reported yesterday. Many survivors, in need of food and water, battled the cold.

Sunday's 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck villages and towns in the mountainous area of Kermanshah Province that borders Iraq while many people were at home asleep. At least 14 provinces in Iran were affected.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in the morning in the quake-stricken area in Kermanshah and promised that the government "will use all its power to resolve the problems in the shortest time".

State television said thousands were huddling in makeshift camps, while many others spent a second night in the open for fear of more tremors after some 193 aftershocks.

LACK OF TENTS

A homeless woman in Sarpol-e Zahab, one of the hardest hit towns, told state TV that her family was exposed to the night cold because of lack of tents.

"We need help. We need everything. The authorities should speed up their help," she said.

Footage of rescue workers frantically combing through the rubble of dozens of villages immediately after the quake were showing on television.

But Iranian officials said the chances of finding any more survivors were extremely low.

"The rescue operations in Kermanshah Province have ended," Mr Pir Hossein Kolivand, head of Iran's Emergency Medical Services, said on state television.

Hospitals in nearby provinces took in many of the injured, state television said, airing footage of survivors waiting to be treated. Hundreds of critically injured people were dispatched to hospitals in Teheran.

Photographs posted on Iranian news websites showed rescue workers digging people out of collapsed buildings, cars smashed beneath rubble and rescue dogs trying to find signs of life under the twisted remains of collapsed buildings.

"More people will die because of the cold. My family members live in a village near Sarpol-e Zahab. I cannot go there. I don't know whether they are dead or alive," Rojan Meshkat, 38, in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj told Reuters by telephone. - REUTERS

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