Reuters ANKARA (Reuters) — Rescue operations have ended in areas of Iran hit by a powerful weekend earthquake that killed at least 450 people and injured thousands, state television reported on Tuesday, as many survivors, in need of food and water, battled 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 at home asleep. At least 14 provinces in Iran were affected.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in the morning in the earthquake-stricken area in Kermanshah and promised that the government “will use all its power to resolve the problems in the shortest time.”
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 some 193 aftershocks.
A homeless young woman in Sarpol-e Zahab, one of the hardest-hit towns, told state TV that her family was exposed to the night cold because of lack of tents. “We need help. We need everything. The authorities should speed up their help,” she said.
Television showed footage of rescue workers frantically combing through the rubble of dozens of villages immediately after the quake. But Iranian officials said the chances of finding any more survivors were extremely low.
Iran’s top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, offered his condolences on Monday and called on government agencies to do all they could to help. Iranian police, the elite Revolutionary Guards and its affiliated Basij militia forces were dispatched to affected areas on Sunday night.
The quake, centered in Penjwin in Iraq’s Sulaimaniyah province in the Kurdistan region, killed at least six people in Iraq and injured more than 68. In northern Iraq’s Kurdish districts, seven were killed and 325 wounded.