UK & World News
Iran Earthquake: Hospitals Struggling To Cope
Overcrowded hospitals in northwest Iran are struggling to cope with thousands of earthquake victims, as rescuers race to reach remote villages after two powerful tremors killed hundreds of people.
Thousands of people huddled in makeshift camps or slept in the streets after Saturday's quakes in fear of more aftershocks, 40 of which had already struck.
A lack of tents and other supplies has left them exposed to the night chill.
The number of people killed from the twin quakes remains unclear, with estimates ranging between 227 and 250 people. The casualty figures are expected to rise, officials said, as some of the injured were in a critical condition.
AFP reporters quoted interior minister Moustafa Mohammad-Najjar as saying: "Search and rescue operations have ended and we are now working to ensure survivors' needs in terms of shelter and food." But Reuters news agency said hundreds were stuck under rubble.
Rescuers had been digging through piles of debris over the weekend in an attempt to recover people who became trapped when homes and offices collapsed.
Pictures posted on Iranian news websites showed the bodies of men, women and children lying on the floor of a mortuary in the town of Ahar, 50 miles from the city of Tabriz.
Mourners wailed over the bodies of the dead, many of whom were women and children. Residents said a lot of the villages' men had been working their fields when the disaster struck.
"I saw some people whose entire home was destroyed, and all their livestock killed," said Tahir Sadati, a local photographer. "People need help, they need warm clothes, more tents, blankets and bread."
The worst damage and most casualties appeared to have been in rural villages surrounding the towns of Ahar, Varzaghan and Harees, near the major city of Tabriz, Iranian media reported.
Many villages are hard to reach by road, hindering rescue efforts. Hospitals in Tabriz, Ardabil and other cities nearby took in many of the injured, and there were long queues of survivors waiting to be treated.
Aidin, a Tabriz resident, said he went to give blood at a local hospital on Saturday and saw staff struggling to cope with the influx of patients.
Most patients had been taken there by their families, he said, indicating a shortage of ambulances.
Ahar's 120-bed hospital was full, said Arash, a college student and resident of the town. There were traffic jams on the narrow road between Ahar and Tabriz as victims tried to reach hospitals.
Makeshift medical centres have been set up in the open air with medical staff working through the night to save the lives of those in a critical condition.
The US Geological Survey measured Saturday's first quake at 6.4 magnitude and said it struck 37 miles northeast of the city of Tabriz, a trading hub far from Iran's oil-producing areas and known nuclear facilities.
The second, measuring 6.3 magnitude, struck 11 minutes later near Varzaghan, 30 miles northeast of Tabriz.
Twelve villages were destroyed and about 60 had more than 50% damage in the quakes, Iranian media reported. About 110 villages were damaged, deputy interior minister Hassan Ghadami told Fars news agency.
Mr Ghadami said 250 people had been killed and Red Crescent spokesman Hossein Derakhshan told Fars more than 2,000 people were believed to have been injured.
"We saw some villages that were truly destroyed," said Sadati, who visited the affected area to document the aftermath.
"One good thing was that the earthquake happened during the day, so many people were not in their homes. If it had happened at night the casualties would have been far worse."
Seventy-one ambulances and 40 units trained to find survivors had been deployed to the affected areas along with more than 5,000 tents, Mr Derakhshan said.
About 16,000 people in the quake-hit area have been given emergency shelter, Red Crescent official Mahmoud Mozafar told Mehr news agency.
Iran is situated on major fault lines and has suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years, including a 6.6 magnitude quake in 2003 that reduced the historic south-eastern city of Bam to dust and killed about 31,000 people.
what do you think?
I'm quite sure that America and Israel will be the first to offer aid to Iran in their hour of need!
No doubt the conspiracy theorists will blame Mossad
I was hoping to read that the prime minister had disappeared down a big hole.
Iran has a president not a prime minister.
Did you get that Dave ? Iran needs tons of cash
Probably not an earthquake!! Probably an off course missile launched from Tehran Never mind, Israel will help out!!
This is a terrible event, and should not be used for stupid comments, think of all the people in need for goodness sake, are we human or not ?
Could this have been someone who did not like my comment?
Very true James. I do wonder about peoples mentality. Btw Nice sentiments from you.
I hate that too James.And despite what some say it does not denote a lack of humour in our personalities. As for humanity, some people on here tread a fine line.
Louisa, I was reading a blog earlier and found some of the comments negative and insulting! Many couldn't even bring themselves to say condolences to human suffering!
for nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another ...matthew 24:7..since world war 1 there has been a dramatic increase in wars ,uprisings ,civil war on a scale that has not been seen in any other century ,yes there have been other wars but not anyway on the same scale ..the same goes for earthquakes ,yes there are many eathquakes but this century it has affected more people and they have been stronger on the ricter scale as luke records " great earthquakes "21:11 ..man has interfered with the earths ecological system taking coal .oil and other material out of the earth not to mention atomic explosions ,nuclear tests ect all this has a effect on the structure of the earth .mankind bears some responsibility for earthquakes
Mother Nature controls all natural disasters, as she has always done - not the hebrew desert god yahweh. . . Or a carpenter from Bethlehem
Its on the cards that our lot will send them millions to build more hospitals. This is a country which spends millions on development of weapons to blow another country of the map. Do we remember that they held our Navy personel hostage some 2 years ago. Leave any pity for this outlaw state to Isreal.
Only because we cannot read a navigational chart
Foster, who do you think sells Iran the weapons? The West, including many senior politicians, have strong links to the legal and illegal arms trades around the world.
Yes I remember foster, due to the incomprehensible actions of the Captain of the warship, who should have kept the little boat in viewing distance, so we can't blame the Iranian people to take the advantage, and remember none of them were injured, only the Captains and the Royal Navys pride
Sorry Louisa but Iran buys from Russia, former Soviet states, North Korea and China. Socialist paradises all. They haven't bought Western kit since the days of the Shah.
Ronn Wood - your comment displays your deficiency of intellectual fibre. Just because you can quote scripture dosent mean your point is valid. You say that there have been earthquakes and wars before, but none that have affected as many people as now ? Well thats because the world population is greater now than it has ever been before. Simples !
a defiency of intellectual fibre ? amazing how much you actually know about me considering you do not even know a single thing about me !! but my point that it has affected more people is true regardless of population size
So what has christianity got to do with anything ? Thats why i commented re lack of intellectual fibre - its very easy to quote scripture (other peoples words) rather than formulate your own opinions not based on patriachal edicts written 1000's of years ago by people who had no concept of science or technology