Iran scrambles to aid victims of killer quake

Iran scrambles to aid victims of killer quake

Rescuers used heavy equipment to dig through the debris of toppled buildings on Tuesday and the government scrambled to get aid to the worst-hit Kermanshah province where hundreds of homes were destroyed, the BBC reported.

One of the region's worst quakes struck Bam in Iran in 2003 and killed at least 31,000 people.

An Iranian-born Kurdish weightlifter on Tuesday said he will auction his Olympic gold medal to raise money for victims of Sunday night's devastating natural disaster that hit the border areas between the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhelat).

The headline of a state newspaper read "Iran cries with Kermanshah", referring to the Kurdish-majority province.

Ali Gulani, 42, who lives in the province's badly-hit town of Qasr-e-Shirin, told BBC that people were burning crates to try to stay warm.

We have water and food but no tent.

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Kermanshah, an nearly 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.

Some family members managed to escape, but "neighbours and rescue workers pulled out the mother and one of the children dead from the rubble".

In Sarpol-e Zahab, he asked: "Who is to be blamed for this?"

They included a desperate plea: "Please don't stop helping".

"The weather is turning colder now".

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

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"I call on all governmental and military officials and all NGOs to help the Housing Foundation and do not do separate work".

"People's immediate needs are firstly tents, water and food", said the head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari.

Also, 40 ambulances, 55 4WD vehicles, 9 rescue vehicles, and 5 helicopters have been dispatched by Relief and Rescue Organisation of the Iranian Red Crescent Society from the first hours of the morning for assistance.

Rouhani said his administration will probe the cause of so much damage to buildings constructed under a state-owned program in the quake-stricken area along the border with Iraq. "The quake did not kill us but the cold weather will kill us", a woman in her 30s said.

Exhausted and exposed to freezing cold, survivors of a weekend natural disaster in western Iran begged authorities for food and shelter on Tuesday, saying aid was slow to reach them. Bagheri estimated that 70,000 people could be affected by the quake.

The Iranian Red Crescent said many areas lacked water and electricity and that aid supplies were being hampered by roads blocked by landslides.

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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".

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