Iran natural disaster: Death toll soars to more than 450

Jerome Frank
November 15, 2017

A powerful 7.3-magnitude natural disaster, which struck western Iran on Sunday, caused relatively minor damage to several historic and heritage sites in Kermanshah and Ilam provinces.

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

"Fortunately no damages were inflicted upon display windows and historical objects within the museum", he added.

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.

Survivors, many left homeless by Sunday's 7.3 magnitude quake that struck villages and towns in Kermansheh province along the mountainous border with Iraq, struggled through another bleak day on Tuesday in need of food, water and shelter.

The town centre was clogged with traffic as people from the surrounding province rushed to help with rescue efforts.

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

Tents, some provided by the Red Crescent, dotted green spaces turned into camps for the displaced.

Rouhani said that all aid would be channelled through the Housing Foundation, one of the charitable trusts set up after the Islamic revolution of 1979 that are major players in the Iranian economy.

The head of the elite Revolutionary Guards, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said the immediate need was for tents, water and food.

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But more aid was still needed.

"Newly constructed buildings... held up well, but the old houses built with earth were totally destroyed", he told state television.

Iran has so far declined offers of foreign assistance to deal with the aftermath of the tremor, which officials said damaged 30,000 homes and completely destroyed two villages.

Three days of mourning have been ordered for those in Kermanshah.

Night-time temperatures in Kermanshah province fell close to freezing point for a second night in succession.

Ali Daei, a legend of Iranian football and former national team coach, launched an appeal for food and basic supplies. Hundreds of critically injured people were dispatched to hospitals in Tehran.

Thousands of homeless Iranians sought shelter from bitter cold Tuesday as President Hassan Rouhani promised swift help after a major natural disaster that killed more than 400 people.

The area sees frequent seismic activity. In Iran's Kermanshah province killed 61 people, more than 300 were injured.

Thirteen years later, a catastrophic quake flattened swathes of the ancient southeastern Iranian city of Bam, killing at least 31,000. 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.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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