Iran to probe state-built homes destroyed by deadly quake

Violet Powell
November 15, 2017

The quake hit Azgeleh, but officials said the highest number of casualties were in Iran's Kermanshah province.

The Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicraft Department dispatched several cultural heritage task forces to determine the extent of [possible] damage to each monument, the official said, adding that the five sites can be restored.

Iran's Red Crescent said emergency shelter had been provided for thousands of homeless people, but a lack of water and electricity as well as blocked roads in some areas hindered aid supply efforts. "Please help us. I plead with the people of Iran for help", he said. "We had to leave without being able to help them".

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

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

The death toll of 530, reported by state news agency IRNA, made it Iran's deadliest natural disaster in more than a decade. Iraqi officials said seven people were killed and 325 injured in Iraq, all in the northern Kurdish provinces.

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

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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 ruins.

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

"Newly constructed buildings... Held up well, but the old houses built with earth were totally destroyed", he told state television as he visited the affected region.

Red Crescent Relief and Rescue teams from Kurdistan and Markazi provincial branches are providing relief and rescue services in the city of Salase-Babajani, teams from Lorestan to Qasre-Shirin and teams from Hamedan to Sare-Pule-Zahab.

Iran's top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, offered his condolences on Monday to the victims and called on government agencies to do all they could to help.

It was 15 miles deep - a shallow depth that can cause broader damage - and was felt for about 20 seconds in Baghdad, as well as in Turkey, Kuwait and Israel.

Iran's sporting community has always been beside the people during natural calamities such as the 2003 Bam quake in Bam City, Kerman Province, in which more than 26,000 were killed and over 30,000 were injured.

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