Iran quake toll reaches 540, survivors plead for help

Trevor Jackson
November 15, 2017

The quake hit 19 miles from the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja along a 930-mile fault line that runs between the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates.

Rescue operations have ended in Iran after a powerful natural disaster killed more than 500 people and injured 8,000 others.

Rescuers are digging through the debris of buildings felled by an quake that killed more than 430 people in the border region of Iran and Iraq.

Iran's Olympic weightlifting champion Kianoush Rostami put his Rio Olympics 2016 gold medal for auction to raise money for the quake-stricken areas.

Some had spent Sunday night outdoors after fleeing their homes in the mountainous cross-border region, huddling around fires at dawn as authorities sent in help.

The head of the elite Revolutionary Guards, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said many older buildings collapsed.

In the Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab, which was reconstructed in the decades since the 1980s war with Iraq, the outer walls of apartment complexes tumbled away in the magnitude 7.3 quake Sunday night.

The Israeli leader says his country has "no quarrel with the people of Iran".

"Other buildings near our apartment are not damaged as much because they were built privately", said Ferdows Shahbazi, 42, who lived in one of the Mehr buildings.

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Iran's emergency services chief Pir Hossein Koolivand said landslides had cut off roads to affected villages, impeding the access of rescue workers. Officials said 12,000 houses had been completely destroyed and a further 15,000 damaged, Irna reported.

We have water and food but no tent.

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

About two million units were built in Iran, including scores in Sarpol-e Zahab, as part of a populist program by Ahmadinejad, who also offered cash payouts and other incentives to appease the public while Iran faced crippling economic sanctions over its nuclear program. But in the more isolated and worst-hit Sunni localities, Sunni charities-including those of Islah and Dawa Group, an Iranian Islamist group close to the Muslim Brotherhood-were said to have arrived on the scene first with tents and water.

At least 280 people were killed in the town, home to some 85,000 people, where crumpled vehicles lay under the rubble of flattened buildings on the streets.

The towns of Eslamabad and Qasr-e Shirin were also affected, while the tremor shook several western Iranian cities including Tabriz. As of right now, the natural disaster has claimed over 500 lives, injured over 7,000, and has left thousands homeless and in need of support.

State television aired footage of weeping villagers carrying away bodies wrapped in bloodied blankets and bed sheets and scrabbling with their bare hands through rubble in search of friends and relatives.

In neighbouring Dalahoo County, several villages were totally destroyed, an official told Tasnim agency. Hundreds of critically injured people were dispatched to hospitals in Tehran.

More than 500 people were injured in both provinces and the nearby province of Kirkuk.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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