Rescue efforts end after deadly Iran quake


Rescue operations have ended in areas of Iran hit by a powerful weekend natural disaster that killed at least 530 people and injured thousands, state television reported on Tuesday, as many survivors, in need of food and water, battled the cold.

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.

Iranian state news agency Irna said 530 people had died in Iran alone.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday travelled to Iran's western Kermanshah province to inspect the damage and rescue operations in the regions hit by a deadly quake on Sunday night, state TV reported.

Major General Jafari said the IRGC has mobilized efforts to rescue people in rural areas while the Army units have focused their relief operation on Sarpol-e-Zahab, a city hit hardest by the Sunday night quake.

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.

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During Rouhani's visit to the quake-stricken areas in Kermanshah province on Tuesday, the president pledged to allocate sizeable fund for the reconstruction of the buildings.

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

A woman sits on the debris on the quake site in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran. "We need water, we need food, like bread, and we need blankets".

He added that "psychological support teams" had been sent to these areas.

The most extensive damage in Iraq occurred in the town of Darbandikhan in the country's Kurdish region. In Iran's Kermanshah province killed 61 people, more than 300 were injured. Numerous villages affected by quake were very remote and hard to reach, said Bagheri. "There is no electricity". Some people are angry that among the collapsed buildings were houses that the government has built in recent years under its affordable housing programme.

Full-scale rescue operation could start only with the dawn, and yet unknown, are still people under the rubble. "The temperature tonight will drop below freezing and many people will be left outside their homes". My family lives in a village near Sarpol-e Zahab. "I don't know whether they are dead or alive", Rojan Meshkat, 38, in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj told Reuters by telephone.