Thousands of Iranians endured another chilly night in the open air after a powerful earthquake that struck the western province of Kermanshah. The natural calamity claimed over 530 lives and injured many more.
Survivors of the devastating earthquake braved chilly weather, huddled around makeshift fires for a second night outdoors into Tuesday morning, as the government scrambled to get aid to the affected region.
Iranian officials said the search for survivors was largely over, while adding that the chances of finding any more survivors were extremely low.
More than 530 people were killed and about 7,500 injured when the 7.3-magnitude earthquake rocked the mountainous region spanning Iran's western province of Kermanshah and Iraqi Kurdistan on Sunday evening.
More than 30,000 houses in the area were damaged and at least two villages were completely destroyed, Iranian authorities said.
"It is a very cold night... we need help. We need everything. The authorities should speed up their help," said one homeless young woman in Sarpol-e Zahab, one of the hardest-hit towns.
She added that her family was forced to stay outdoors because of lack of tents.
Many others chose to sleep in the open for fear of more tremors to come after nearly 200 aftershocks.
President Rouhani visits quake-hit area
The head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, acknowledged that people were in immediate need of tents, water and food.
"Newly constructed buildings... held up well, but the old houses built with earth were totally destroyed," he told state television during a visit to the affected region.
Iran is observing a day of mourning on Tuesday.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is visiting the affected areas, said the government would "use all its power to resolve the problems in the shortest time."
Relief operations in full swing
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered his condolences on Monday and immediately dispatched all government and military forces to aid those affected.
Officials said they were setting up relief camps for the displaced. 22,000 tents, 52,000 blankets and tons of food and water had been distributed, they said.
The official IRNA news agency reported that 30 Red Crescent teams were deployed in the affected region.
Red Crescent said aid supply efforts were being hampered by a lack of water and electricity as well as blocked roads in some areas. Dozens of Iranian army helicopters were reported to have joined the relief effort.
ap/rc (Reuters, AP, AFP)