Iran natural disaster survivors plead for help as toll rises


Iran's state-run news agency says the country's death toll from the powerful natural disaster that struck the Iran-Iraq border has risen to 530.

Iranian state news agency Irna said 530 people had died in Iran alone.

The 7.3-magnitude quake struck villages and towns in the mountainous area of Kermanshah province that borders Iraq.

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

The worst damage appeared to be in the Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah. Authorities said Iran's armed forces will be sent to help remove rubble.

The head of the elite Revolutionary Guards, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said the immediate need was for tents, water and food.

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"Newly constructed buildings. held up well, but the old houses built with earth were totally destroyed", he told state television. President Hassan Rouhani is due to visit the region on Tuesday.

Also, 40 ambulances, 55 4WD vehicles, 9 rescue vehicles, and 5 helicopters have been dispatched by Relief and Rescue Organisation of the Iranian Red Crescent Society from the first hours of the morning for assistance.

At least 339 people have been killed in the quake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale.

She said now that rescue operations had ended, the priority was getting people into shelters as quickly as possible, and that the delivery of aid was on track.

Red Crescent Relief and Rescue teams from Kurdistan and Markazi provincial branches are providing relief and rescue services in the city of Salase-Babajani, teams from Lorestan to Qasre-Shirin and teams from Hamedan to Sare-Pule-Zahab.