Thousands of homeless out in the cold after Iran quake

More than 70,000 people have been left homeless after 7.3 quake hits Iran’s western region and neighbouring Iraq.

Temperatures have plunged close to freezing in the western region of Iran affected by a 7.3-magnitude quake as many homeless survivors are forced to camp out for a second straight night.

Iran‘s President Hassan Rouhani visited the worst-hit city of Sarpol-e Zahab on Tuesday and vowed to build 30,000 houses for survivors. But it remains unclear how the government will grapple with providing temporary shelter for the 70,000 displaced.  

Rouhani said an estimated 11,000 homes in rural areas and 4,500 in cities have been destroyed.

More than 450 people have been killed and 7,000 others injured in Iran’s Kermanshah province following the earthquake on Sunday. Across the border in Iraq, at least seven people were killed and 300 injured.

According to the Weather Channel, temperates could drop as low as 12C overnight with light winds and clear skies in Sarpol-e Zahab, which is surrounded by mountains.

Many survivors have either lost their houses or were too afraid to return to their damaged dwellings because of aftershocks, choosing to camp out despite the cool weather.

Since Sunday, more than 230 aftershocks have been recorded in Kermanshah, Tasnim News Agency reported.     

Videos posted on social media on Tuesday by the Kermanshah Daily website showed several white tents set up along a road in Sarpol-e Zahab next to destroyed mud houses.

Another video showed people bringing food and garments for the survivors. Other posts on social media pleaded for monetary donations, or provisions of tents, blankets, warm clothes and water.  

Meanwhile, Mansoureh Bagheri of Iran’s Red Crescent Society told Al Jazeera more than 90 percent of the areas affected by the earthquake have been reached by the aid group. 

“I can say that most of the rescue operations have been completed,” she said late on Monday, adding the Red Crescent dispatched helicopters to the remotest areas hit.

The Iranian Red Crescent has reached almost 90 percent of the affected areas [AFP]
The Iranian Red Crescent has reached almost 90 percent of the affected areas [AFP]

“We focused on providing shelter and food because of the severe weather and cold temperatures,” Bagheri said.

Iran’s Red Crescent said 10,000 tents, 20,000 blankets, and 185,000 canned goods have been sent to the affected areas, but it is unclear whether the provisions already reached those in need.   

As of Tuesday, the government reported 70 percent of the power grid and water supplies were back in operation. 

‘Earthquake belt’

In Tehran, hundreds of people lined up to donate blood for those injured, according to businessman Shariar Shahabi.    

During his visit on Tuesday, President Rouhani told residents his administration would provide financial aid and loans to those who lost their homes.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Reza Marashi, an Iranian-American, said he expects Iranians to rally behind the country’s leadership amid the disaster.

“I think you are going to see a more robust government response in the coming days,” Marashi of the National Iranian American Council told Al Jazeera.

“If you don’t see that response from the government, then you will start to see outrage from the people, which is the last thing the Iranian government is going to want.”

Iran’s location makes it vulnerable to earthquakes, with several faultlines bisecting the country.

In 2012, more than 200 people were killed after two powerful quakes struck the northwestern city of Tabriz. 

In 2003, a 6.6 magnitude temblor flattened the historic city of Bam in southeastern Iran, killing some 26,000 people.

In June 1990, a 7.7-magnitude quake hit Gilan and Zanjan leaving 37,000 people dead and 100,000 injured.


Source: Al Jazeera