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German Press Review: Disaster Draws World Closer

The devastating earthquake in Iran and the search for survivors was the top story in Germany’s newspapers Monday.

"Families, who lost their love ones, have spent days digging with their bare hands through the debris trying to find them," wrote the Hamburger Abendblatt. "Such a devastating misfortune exposes the helplessness of humans and spurs others to help." Even the United States which branded Iran as a rogue state and indirectly threatened it with war, has sent aid, the paper noted and added with even more astonishment that the Ayatollahs have welcomed the assistance. It’s obviously dawned on the religious leaders that they cannot cut their country of 67 million people off from the rest of the world, the Abendblatt concluded.

On a similar note, the Frankfurter Rundschau compared Friday’s earthquake to the one in 1990. The difference is that this time Tehran want’s outside aid, including Washington’s help, it said. The paper observed that the disaster has prompted unexpected diplomatic movements that haven’t been seen on this level for 20 years. However, voices in the United States are making it clear that this is "only" about the victims of the catastrophe and not about politics. But, the paper asked, what are politics about if not about people?

The General Anzeiger in Bonn was encouraged by the huge wave of rescue teams that poured in from around the world. "It shows a strength that goes above political divides and beyond borders." The paper reminded its readers of how help from the United States in post-war Germany created a strong bond between the two countries and their people. Perhaps, U.S. aid in Iran could also help pave the wave for a normalizing of ties between the two deeply mistrustful nations, it concluded.

Many extremely poor countries across the globe lie in high risk natural catastrophe zones, especially earthquake regions, noted the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The Iranian city of Bam had been built up using traditional loam bricks which multiplied the devastation and reduced the chance of saving anyone buried under the rubble. The paper, while recognizing that even modern homes cannot withstand a strong earthquake, argued that even minimal shock resistant technology is possible. In this age of globalization, many countries shouldn’t just pledge aid, the FAZ admonished, but also help provide long term prevention against such catastrophes.

The Badische Zeitung in Freiburg also viewed the poor building infrastructure in Iran as one of the prime reasons for such a high fatality rate. Tehran has long known how vulnerable the country is to earthquakes, but no building codes have been enforced, it wrote: "This is a bitter lesson for the city of Bam." Not only Iran, but the rest of the world should learn from the situation, the paper cautioned and added, it’s now clear that only politics based on cooperation and economic reconciliation can lead to long-term improvement

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