Rouhani vows speedy reconstruction as quake death toll climbs to 530


Iranian officials called off rescue operations, saying there was little chance of finding more survivors from the natural disaster that shook parts of western Iran on Sunday, killing at least 530 people, state media said on Tuesday. Tens of thousands of people are still desperately in need of help and survivors in the most remote parts of Iran are complaining about the slow pace of the relief effort.

"Today, we sent our ambulances to villages in areas affected by the quake to help people rescued yesterday, including changing their bandages", he said.

Moms Against Poverty: A small, Burlingame, California-based charity that has set up a special campaign for victims of the Iran quake.

"The rescue operations in Kermanshah province have ended", Pir-Hossein Kolivand, head of Iran's Emergency Medical Services, said on state TV. In the more sparsely populated areas across the border in Iraq, 10 people died and several hundred were injured.

Besides, Mohammad Ali Bosaqzadeh, deputy for production control at the National Petrochemical Company, said that the strong quake has damaged neither the petrochemical plants in western provinces nor the West Ethylene Pipeline that runs from Asalouyeh by the Persian Gulf to West Azarbaijan province in northwest Iran.

He added that "psychological support teams" had been sent to these areas. But Iranian officials said the chances of finding any more survivors were extremely low.

Hospitals in nearby provinces took in numerous injured, state television said, airing footage of survivors waiting to be treated. Nonetheless, it was the deadliest quake so far in 2017, killing about 400 people and injuring 7,000.

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

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. Some people are angry that among the collapsed buildings were houses that the government has built in recent years under its affordable housing programme.

Rescuers used backhoes and other heavy equipment to dig through toppled buildings in Sarpol-e-Zahab, home to more than half of the dead.

"On behalf of the Armenian government and personally myself I would like to extend our deepest condolences to you and the good people of Iran expressing our readiness to be involved in rescue operations".