Iran's Rouhani inspects quake damages, pledges compensation to losses

Strong Quake Jolts Western Iran

The Sunday night quake's epicenter, measuring 7.3 magnitude on the Richter scale, was located approximately 32 km south of the city of Halabja in a remote mountainous region of eastern Iraq, some 200 km north-east of Baghdad and 400 km west of Tehran, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Authorities said Iran's armed forces will be sent to help remove rubble.

At least 14 provinces in Iran were affected. Iranian aid officials say thousands of people do now have emergency shelter, but many thousands more do not. Iraqi officials said seven people were killed and 325 injured in Iraq, all in the northern Kurdish provinces. Iran's Kermanshah province, where most of the damage occurred, is home to both Shia and Sunni Muslims.

In the Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab, which was reconstructed in the decades since the 1980s war with Iraq, the outer walls of apartment complexes tumbled away in the magnitude 7.3 quake Sunday night.

He added that "psychological support teams" had been sent to these areas.

Yesterday, Iranian officials said they were setting up relief camps for the displaced and that 22,000 tents, 52,000 blankets and tonnes of food and water had been distributed.

Latest figures indicate that nearly 430 people lost their lives in the natural disaster and over 7,000 were injured, PressTV reported.

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Hospitals in nearby provinces took in numerous injured, state television said, airing footage of survivors waiting to be treated.

Local health minister Rekawt Rasheed said the situation was "critical", made worse by the fact that the district's main hospital was badly damaged and without power.

"We are living in a tent and we don't have enough food or water", Ali Gulani (42), from Qasr-e-Shirin, told BBC's Persian service.

More than 30,000 houses in the area were damaged and at least two villages were completely destroyed, Iranian authorities said.

Some of the buildings, which were built by government-affiliated programs and "state-owned schemes", according to a statement from the Office of the President, collapsed or were badly damaged. "The temperature tonight will drop below freezing and many people will be left outside their homes". "I don't know whether they are dead or alive", Rojan Meshkat, 38, in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj told Reuters by telephone.

Iran is crisscrossed by major fault lines and has suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years, including a 6.6 magnitude quake in 2003 that reduced the historic southeastern city of Bam to dust and killed some 31,000 people.

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