Iran quake: Rouhani vows action over collapsed buildings

Katrina Barker
November 16, 2017

The 7.3 magnitude natural disaster was centred about 19 miles outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja at about 6.20pm United Kingdom time on Sunday. "They build better houses than those built under projects and schemes", Rouhani said in Kermanshah, state TV reported.

Iran is one of the most seismically active countries in the world. More than 30 people were injured in the town, according to Kurdish Health Minister Rekawt Hama Rasheed.

"I think it was only God that saved us", she said. "People are helping people", said Ayasheh Karami, 60, standing amid the ruins of her house.

Television showed rescue workers combing through the rubble of dozens of villages immediately after the quake.

The epicenter of the quake was located around 32 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of the city of Halabja, near the Iranian border, and 103 kilometers (64 miles) southeast of the city of Sulaymaniyah, at a depth of 33 kilometers, hitting at 9:18 p.m. local time (1818GMT), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Number of aftershocks felt by Monday night, giving rise to fears of another big quake.

Head of emergency medical services Pirhossein Koulivand said it was "difficult to send rescue teams to the villages because the roads have been cut off - there have been landslides".

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, offered his condolences and urged rescuers and government agencies to do all they can to help those affected by the quake.

The Iranian army, the elite Revolutionary Guards and its affiliated Basij militia forces were dispatched to affected areas on Sunday night.

But Iranian officials said the chances of finding any more survivors were extremely low.

Some of the houses which collapsed in an quake that killed at least 530 people and injured thousands of others were built under an affordable housing scheme initiated in 2011 by Rouhani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "There is no electricity. Last night I cried when I saw children with no food or shelter".

Some people were angry that among the collapsed buildings were houses that the government has built in recent years under its affordable housing programme.

Iranian officials say the situation is under control in affected areas, but newspapers and media have been circulating recordings of citizens complaining of being left out in the cold without aid, food and medicine.

"This was painful for all Iranians", Rouhani said.

On the other hand, exhausted and exposed to freezing cold, survivors begged authorities for food and shelter, saying aid was slow to reach them.

Rouhani's government has not asked for global assistance, leaving the relief effort in the hands of the Red Crescent, a few other nongovernmental organizations, military agencies like the paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - and individual good Samaritans.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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