Rescuers search debris after Iran-Iraq quake kills over 530


SARPOL-E-ZAHAB, Iran — Rescuers on Tuesday used backhoes and heavy equipment to dig through the debris of buildings toppled by a powerful earthquake on the border between Iran and Iraq that killed over 530 people, with weeping women crying out to God as aid workers found new bodies.

The grim work began in earnest again at dawn in the Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah, which appears to be the hardest hit in the magnitude 7.3 earthquake.

Kermanshah, an almost entirely Kurdish province nestled in the Zagros Mountains that run along the border with Iraq, suffered all of Iran’s fatalities from the temblor Sunday night that shook 14 of the country’s 31 provinces.

Both rescuers and local residents alike stood atop the remains of apartment complexes Tuesday, looking through the rubble. They used heavy blankets to carry away corpses.

The hospital in Sarpol-e-Zahab was heavily damaged, and the army set up field hospitals, although many of the injured were moved to other cities, including Tehran.

The quake also damaged an army garrison and buildings in the border city and killed an unspecified number of soldiers, according to reports.

There are fears more dead could be in the rubble in Sarpol-e-Zahab and other rural villages of Kermanshah province. Mohammad Ali Monshizadeh, a spokesman for the provincial forensic department, said possibly as many as 150 people were buried by family members after the earthquake in remote villages who had not been counted in the official death toll, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

Iran’s Red Crescent also said it worried about more bodies in rural villages, though it said the rescue operations in larger towns could end soon.

President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Kermanshah province on Tuesday to see the damage for himself and offer his support to those affected.

“This was a pain for all Iranians,” Rouhani said, according to a statement on the presidency’s website. “Representing the nation of Iran, I offer my condolences to the people of Kermanshah, and tell them that all of us are behind Kermanshah.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif offered his thanks to foreign countries offering to help but wrote on Twitter: “For now, we are able to manage with our own resources.”

Cleric Abdolhossein Moezi, a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who also is touring the area, said there was a need for more relief material and “security.” That was echoed by…



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