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15 November 2017, 12:39 | Terri Saunders
Strong Quake Jolts Western Iran
The epicentre lay 30km (18 miles) south of Halabja in Iraq, but nearly all of the casualties occurred in Iran's Kurdish heartland, in the country's marginalised north-west.
Mohammad-Ali Monshizadeh, an official from Kermanshah province, told the Irna state news agency: "Up to now, we have issued 430 death certificates. but an estimated number of 100 to 150 more people have been buried in quake-stricken villages and towns without permission. which raises the overall death toll to between 530 to 580 in Kermanshah".
Thousands of homeless Iranians sought shelter from bitter cold yesterday as President Hassan Rouhani promised swift help after a major natural disaster.
Major General Jafari said the IRGC has mobilized efforts to rescue people in rural areas while the Army units have focused their relief operation on Sarpol-e-Zahab, a city hit hardest by the Sunday night quake. Two whole villages were destroyed.
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Ali Gulani, 42, lives in the province's badly-hit town of Qasr-e-Shirin, and told BBC Persian people were burning crates to try to stay warm.
TV reports indicate that more than half of the Iranian casualties are from the town of Sarpol-e-Zahab, and the district of Ezgeleh, which have a combined population of 30,000. Ali Daei, football coach and former player and world record holder for global goalscoring, was among the first to help those in need by starting a campaign in Tehran to gather humanitarian aid for Kermanshah. Iraqi officials said seven people were killed and 325 injured in Iraq, all in the northern Kurdish provinces. Initial Iranian government estimates suggest the quake destroyed 12,000 apartments and free-standing homes, and damaged 15,000 others. "Please help us. I plead with the people of Iran for help", he said.
Officials in Iran declared Tuesday as a national day of mourning and newspapers broke with tradition to publish their front page headlines in the Kurdish language, in a rare move showing solidarity with the majority-Kurdish areas worst affected. "There is no electricity".
Photographs posted on Iranian news websites showed rescue workers digging people out of collapsed buildings, cars smashed beneath rubble and rescue dogs trying to find signs of life under the twisted ruins. "The temperature tonight will drop below freezing and many people will be left outside their homes". I can not even go there.
Villages and cities near the quake are suffering from widespread power outages and destruction of property.
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