Government Vows Quick Response to Kermanshah Earthquake

Government Vows Quick Response to Earthquake  Government Vows Quick Response to Earthquake

President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Kermanshah in western Iran on Monday to visit the areas affected by a devastating earthquake that has claimed the lives of at least 430 people and injured thousands.

The president said the government "is using all its power to provide aid to the affected people and will make every effort to resolve the problems in the shortest time", according to his official website.

Rescue operations have ended in the areas hit by the powerful earthquake, as many survivors, in need of food and water, are battling 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 asleep. At least 14 provinces in Iran felt the quake.

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 about 200 aftershocks.

Television showed footage of rescue workers frantically combing through the rubble of dozens of villages immediately after the quake. But officials said the chances of finding any more survivors were extremely low.

"Rescue operations in Kermanshah Province have ended," Pir-Hossein Kolivand, the head of Iran's Medical Emergency Services, said on state TV as cited by Reuters.

Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei offered his condolences on Monday and called on government agencies and military forces to do all they could to help.

Relief Efforts

Iranian police and Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and Basij volunteer forces were dispatched to affected areas on Sunday night.

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 Tehran.

The Iranian Red Crescent Society 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 relief efforts.

Local authorities said traffic chaos on roads, caused by people from nearby provinces who were rushing to help, further hampered the flow of aid.

"People in some villages are still in dire need of food, water and shelter," Governor of Qasr-e Shirin Faramarz Akbari told state television.

More than 30,000 houses in the area were damaged and at least two villages were completely destroyed.

Houses in Iranian villages are often made of concrete blocks or mudbrick that can collapse in a strong quake.

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.

Iran is crisscrossed by major fault lines and has suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years, including a 6.6 magnitude quake in 2003 that reduced the historic southeastern city of Bam to dust and killed some 31,000 people.


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