Iran ends quake rescue operations as hungry survivors battle the cold

"The rescue operations in Kermanshah province have ended", said the head of Iran's Emergency Medical Services Pir-Hossein Kolivand.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif thanked foreign countries offering to help but wrote on Twitter: "For now, we are able to manage with our own resources".

"The weather is turning colder now".

At least 210 people were killed and more than 1,700 were injured Sunday night when a powerful 7.3-magnitude natural disaster struck in Iran and Iraq. In General, we are talking about a sparsely populated mountainous region. Numerous victims lived in the social housing complexes that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had built when he was president barely a decade ago. Nonetheless, it was the deadliest quake so far in 2017, killing about 400 people and injuring 7,000.

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.

The epicentre lay 30km (18 miles) south of Halabja in Iraq, but nearly all of the casualties occurred in Iran's Kurdish heartland, in the country's marginalised north-west. "The temperature tonight will drop below freezing and many people will be left outside their homes". Angry residents have been heard blaming poor construction quality and government corruption for the heavy death toll.

"Iran wept", read the front page of Aftab-e-Yazd, over a big photograph of an Iranian woman holding a lost family member in her arms.

In Sarpol-e Zahab, he asked: "Who is to be blamed for this?"

"Even in Sarpol-e Zahab, there were not enough tents and goods for the affected people", said the reporter.

The reporter told CHRI: "We are hoping that after [President Hassan] Rouhani's visit to the area tomorrow, the aid work will become more organized and faster".

Rescuers used heavy equipment to dig through the debris of toppled buildings on Tuesday and the government scrambled to get aid to the worst-hit Kermanshah province where hundreds of homes were destroyed, the BBC reported.

According to the official reports, Power is cut off in the cities of Qasre-Shirin, Gilane-Garb, Kermanshah, Sare-Pule-Zahab in Kermanshah and houses in some western Iranian villages have been severely damaged to various degrees.

Akbari said that in addition to medicine, water and food, the city needs 6,000 blankets and tents for emergency settlements for the people of two nearby towns and 25 villages devastated by the quake.

  • Rogelio Becker