Iran quake survivors spend second night in the open air

In this photo provided by Tasnim News Agency, relatives weep over the bodies of earthquake victims, in Sarpol-e-Zahab, western Iran, on Monday. (AP)
Updated 14 November 2017

Iran quake survivors spend second night in the open air

TEHRAN: Tens of thousands of Iranians spent a second night in the open air after a 7.3-magnitude quake struck near the border with Iraq, killing more than 400.
People who had fled their homes when the quake rocked the mountainous region spanning Iran’s western province of Kermanshah and Iraqi Kurdistan on Sunday evening, braved chilly temperatures as authorities struggled to get aid into the quake zone.
Iran has declared Tuesday a national day of mourning as officials outlined the most pressing priorities and described the levels of destruction in some parts as “total.”
“People’s immediate needs are firstly tents, water and food,” said the head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari.
“Newly constructed buildings... held up well, but the old houses built with earth were totally destroyed,” he told state television during a visit to the affected region.
The toll in Iran stood at 413 dead and 6,700 injured, while across the border in more sparsely populated areas of Iraq, the health ministry said eight people had died and several hundred were injured. Iraq’s Red Crescent put the toll at nine dead.
AFP, like other foreign media organizations, has not been allowed to visit the scene of the disaster.
Officials said they were setting up relief camps for the displaced and that 22,000 tents, 52,000 blankets and tons of food and water had been distributed. The official IRNA news agency said 30 Red Crescent teams had been sent to the area.
Hundreds of ambulances and dozens of army helicopters were reported to have joined the rescue effort after Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the government and armed forces to mobilize “all their means.”
By late Monday, officials said all the roads in Kermanshah province had been re-opened, although the worst-affected town of Sar-e Pol-e Zahab remained without electricity, said state television.
At least 280 people were killed in the town, home to some 85,000 people. Buildings stood disfigured, their former facades now rubble on crumpled vehicles.

The tremor shook several western Iranian cities including Tabriz and was also felt in southeastern Turkey, an AFP correspondent said. In the town of Diyarbakir, residents were reported to have fled their homes.
Several villages were totally destroyed in Iran’s Dalahoo County, the Tasnim news agency reported. Five historical monuments in Kermanshah suffered minor damage, but the UNESCO-listed Behistun inscription from the seventh century BC was not affected, the ISNA agency said.
Nizar Abdullah spent Sunday night with neighbors sifting through the ruins of a two-story home next door after it crumbled into concrete debris.
“There were eight people inside,” the 34-year-old Iraqi Kurd said.
Some family members managed to escape, but “neighbors and rescue workers pulled out the mother and one of the children dead from the rubble.”
The quake, which struck at a relatively shallow depth of 23 kilometers, was felt for about 20 seconds in Baghdad, and for longer in other provinces of Iraq, AFP journalists said.
It struck along a 1,500-kilometer fault line between the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates, which extends through western Iran and northeastern Iraq.
The area sees frequent seismic activity.
In 1990, a 7.4-magnitude quake in northern Iran killed 40,000 people, injured 300,000 and left half a million homeless, reducing dozens of towns and nearly 2,000 villages to rubble.
Thirteen years later, a catastrophic quake flattened swathes of the ancient southeastern Iranian city of Bam, killing at least 31,000.
Iran has experienced at least two major quake disasters since, one in 2005 that killed more than 600 and another in 2012 that left some 300 dead.


US State Department sanctions top IRGC general for crackdown on protesters

Updated 25 min 28 sec ago

US State Department sanctions top IRGC general for crackdown on protesters

  • Hook praised the UK and its decision to classify Lebanon's Hezbollah as terrorist group
  • Hook also said that US sanctions were working

WASHINGTON: The US Department of State imposed sanctions on Friday on a leading Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps general following Iran’s crackdown on protesters, US Special Representative on Iran Brian Hook said.

“The United States is listing IRGC Brig. Gen. Hassan Shavapor under Section 7031c, visa sanctions,” Hook told reporters.

“General Shavapor committed gross violations of human rights against protesters at the press briefing. He oversaw the massacre of 148 helpless Iranians in the Mashar region last November,” he said.

Hook added that the designation was the result of photographic and video tips submitted to the department by Iranians.

The department has received more than 88,000 such tips since it appealed for Iranians to report evidence of repression and gross human rights abuses, Hook said.

Iran has denied US allegations of widespread repression but has acknowledged confronting separatists in Mahshahr that it said were armed.

Hook's press statement came after Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made comments about the day Tehran hit US bases in Iraq with missiles in response to the killing of the country’s top military commander Qassem Soleimani, calling it “a day of God.”

He also said that the killing of Soleimani was a “disgrace” to the American administration and that the attack showed the “terrorist nature” of Washington.

In response, Hook said: “The more Iran threatens the world, the more isolated it will become.”

Hook also said that US sanctions were working, citing Iran's president Hassan Rouhani admitting financial losses due to the sanctions and pointing toward Iran's "major banking crisis." 

He added: "We have succeeded in making the Iranian regime and whoever helps it pay a heavy price."

Also on Friday, Hook praised the UK and its decision to classify Lebanon's Hezbollah movement as a terrorist group.