Aid slow to reach quake-hit Iranian villages

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KOUIK, Iran: Iranian survivors of a powerful earthquake that killed more than 400 people pleaded Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) for water, tents and other emergency supplies as aid trickled into remote villages near the Iraqi border.

The government ordered rescuers to keep searching for people trapped under rubble after the 7.3-magnitude quake which struck the mountainous region late Sunday, toppling buildings and leaving thousands homeless.

At least 432 people were killed in Iran, all in the western province of Kermanshah, and eight in Iraq, according to authorities in the two countries.

In total, nearly 8,200 people were reported to have been injured.


In Kouik, a village north of the badly hit city of Sar-e Pol-e Zahab, a convoy of about 20 ambulances arrived with medicine while Red Crescent teams brought tents, water, food, and blankets.

But much of the assistance came from volunteers, some of who traveled more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) from a neighboring province.

“God bless them!” resident Abdol Gader Ziaie, 45, said of those helping out, but “we need running water, electricity, and mobile toilets”.

Villagers have pitched tents around the rubble, and managed to salvage few household belongings and some mattresses.

Cows and sheep wander around the tents as survivors voice fears of disease breaking out because of the corpses of other animals under collapsed buildings.

Most villagers in Kouik are cattle farmers.

“Our homes are destroyed… But there are still animals buried under the rubble, and with the heat we are afraid of epidemics breaking out,” said Ziaie, 50, who pitched a tent for his family in what used to be his garden.

Kouik is arid and hilly. During the day temperatures soar to around 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) while the night is almost freezing.

On Wednesday, several teams of rescue workers from the Red Crescent and the army deployed in the villages around Kouik, Agence France-Presse journalists said.

But for many residents in the stricken region, it is not enough.

AFP

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