Iran pledges swift aid after major quake kills 400

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An Iranian-born Kurdish weightlifter on Tuesday said he will auction his Olympic gold medal to raise money for victims of Sunday night's devastating natural disaster that hit the border areas between the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhelat). The country marked a day of mourning for those killed in the 7.3-magnitude quake that struck a mountainous region spanning the Iran-Iraq border late Sunday. In September Iran's government, run largely by Shia clerics, sent security forces into Sunni Kurdish towns to suppress demonstrations expressing support for an independence vote in Iraqi Kurdistan. "The rescue operations in Kermanshah province have ended", said the head of Iran's Emergency Medical Services Pir-Hossein Kolivand.

In Iraq, the most extensive damage was seen in the town of Darbandikhan, which is in the Kurdish region, where more than 30 people were injured.

Iran's western Kermanshah province experienced the worst damage in that country.

Yesterday, Iranian officials said they were setting up relief camps for the displaced and that 22,000 tents, 52,000 blankets and tonnes of food and water had been distributed.

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.

Hospitals in nearby provinces took in numerous injured, state television said, airing footage of survivors waiting to be treated.


Rouhani said his administration will probe the cause of so much damage to buildings constructed under a state-owned program in the quake-stricken area along the border with Iraq. Nonetheless, it was the deadliest quake so far in 2017, killing about 400 people and injuring 7,000.

"The movement of different layers under the earth has muddied the water supply in the city and so we can't provide water until the mud settles", said the governor of Qasr-e Shirin, Faramarz Akbari.

Houses in Iranian villages are often made of concrete blocks or mudbrick that can crumble and collapse in a strong quake. We heard a few aid workers in Sarpol-e Zahab saying that those in the villages were already dead and nothing could be done for them.

Full-scale rescue operation could start only with the dawn, and yet unknown, are still people under the rubble.

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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