Rouhani vows speedy reconstruction as quake death toll climbs to 530

Rouhani vows speedy reconstruction as quake death toll climbs to 530

Rescue operations have ended in Iran after a powerful natural disaster killed more than 500 people and injured 8,000 others.

The Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicraft Department dispatched several cultural heritage task forces to determine the extent of [possible] damage to each monument, the official said, adding that the five sites can be restored.

Official estimates put the death toll at more than 500.

The headline of a state newspaper read "Iran cries with Kermanshah", referring to the Kurdish-majority province.

The quake was centered about 19 miles (31 kilometers) outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and struck 14.4 miles (23.2 kilometers) below the surface, a somewhat shallow depth that can cause broader damage.

The rescue and relief operations to help people affected by a massive quake is nearing completion, Tasnim quoted head of the country's Emergency Medical Service as saying.

Its governor told state TV: 'There are still people under the rubble.

"Iran wept", read the front page of Aftab-e-Yazd, over a big photograph of an Iranian woman holding a lost family member in her arms. Thousands of people were injured and 30,000 homes damaged.

Iran's top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, offered his condolences on Monday and called on government agencies to do all they could to help. But Iranian officials said the chances of finding any more survivors were extremely low. It jolted the western province of Kermanshah at 9:48 pm (local time) and has claimed 530 lives and injured about 7,800 people, based on reports until Tuesday evening.

Rescuers used heavy equipment to dig through the debris of toppled buildings on Tuesday and the government scrambled to get aid to the worst-hit Kermanshah province where hundreds of homes were destroyed, the BBC reported.

Search and rescue operations are nearly complete while relief operations could take months, Mansoureh Bagheri, director of worldwide operations at the Iranian Red Crescent, told CNN on Tuesday.

Sunday's quake struck along a 1,500-km fault line between the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates, which extends through western Iran and northeastern Iraq.

Major General Jafari said the IRGC has mobilized efforts to rescue people in rural areas while the Army units have focused their relief operation on Sarpol-e-Zahab, a city hit hardest by the Sunday night quake. The quake also shook the Iranian provinces of Kordestan, Ilam, Khuzestan, Markazi, West Azarbaijan, East Azarbaijan, Lorestan, Qazvin, Zanjan, Qom and Tehran.

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