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Iran ends quake rescue operations as hungry survivors battle the cold

15 November 2017
Iran ends quake rescue operations as hungry survivors battle the cold

Thousands of homeless Iranians sought shelter from bitter cold Tuesday as President Hassan Rouhani promised swift help after a major natural disaster that killed more than 400 people.

The 7.3-magnitude quake struck in the remote border area between Iran and Iraq late Sunday and left thousands of people injured and hundreds of villages destroyed.

Close to 200 aftershocks have hit the region since Sunday night.

Rouhani landed by helicopter in the city of Kermanshah and promised the government would move swiftly to help those left homeless.

Rouhani said that all aid would be channelled through the Housing Foundation, one of the charitable trusts set up after the Islamic revolution of 1979 that are major players in the Iranian economy.

"People in some villages are still in dire need of food, water and shelter", said Faramraz Akbari, governor of Qasr-e Shirin county in Kermanshah province.

"I consider it my duty to take a step, however small, to help my beloved fellow countrymen who have suffered as a result of the quake", Rostami was quoted by Iranian state news agency Tasnim.

Iran has so far declined offers of foreign assistance to deal with the aftermath of the tremor, which officials said damaged 30,000 homes and completely destroyed two villages.

In the more sparsely populated areas across the border in Iraq, 10 people died and several hundred were injured.

Tents, some provided by the Red Crescent, dotted green spaces turned into camps for the displaced.

Iranian athletes are closing ranks to help the natural disaster victims in the western Kermanshah Province. "The rescue operations in Kermanshah province have ended", said the head of Iran's Emergency Medical Services Pir-Hossein Kolivand.

That was echoed by Nazar Barani, the mayor of the town of Ezgeleh, who told state TV his constituency still had a "deep need" for food, medicine and tents.

The Israeli leader says his country has "no quarrel with the people of Iran".

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is promising to rebuild the country's earthquake-devastated area in the "shortest" timespan possible. "The authorities should speed up their help", she said.

Officials said 22,000 tents, 52,000 blankets and tonnes of food and water had been distributed.

"Several became victims of treason", the lawmaker said, according to a report by the semi-official ILNA news agency.

Search and rescue operations are nearly complete while relief operations could take months, Mansoureh Bagheri, director of worldwide operations at the Iranian Red Crescent, told CNN on Tuesday.

Neither Iran nor Iraq has diplomatic relations with Israel.

Iran sees frequent seismic activity. Iran's Kermanshah province, where most of the damage occurred, is home to both Shia and Sunni Muslims.

Thirteen years later, a catastrophic quake flattened swathes of the ancient southeastern Iranian city of Bam, killing at least 31,000.