News ID: 204599
Published: 0358 GMT November 19, 2017

Relief operations underway a week after devastating quake

Relief operations underway a week after devastating quake

Rescue and relief operations continue in Kermanshah a week after a deadly earthquake struck the western Iranian province on November 12.

Volunteers and Iranian medical and rescue teams have raced to Kermanshah to treat the injured and help retrieve bodies and save those possibly trapped under rubble, Tasnim News Agency reported.

On Sunday, the 7th day after the 7.3-magnitude earthquake, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani visited the province to inspect the damage and help speed up recovery efforts.

In order to expedite the reconstruction task, the Iranian Army and Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) forces are working in the province.

Brigadier General Ali Akbar Pour Jamshidian, the IRGC Ground Forces coordination deputy, said on Sunday that portable bathrooms designed for such situations will soon be set up in the quake-stricken areas.

The IRGC has also stationed seven portable field hospitals to Kermanshah to help those injured in the deadly earthquake. The field hospitals have tents, operating rooms, outpatient wards, gynecology ward, pharmacy, radiology labs, and even dental facilities.

According to IRNA, the quake toll has reached 437, with two of the dead still remaining unidentified, according to the Iranian Legal Medicine Organization (LMO).


UN medical supplies


Also, United Nations agencies have delivered medical supplies to the areas in Iran and Iraq struck by the devastating earthquake, and are urging vigilance against the possible outbreaks of infectious and waterborne diseases, reported on Friday.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has airlifted trauma kits and medical supplies to Iran to support treatment for thousands of people injured.

“While there is no direct link between earthquakes and disease outbreaks, close monitoring for cases of infectious diseases, especially waterborne diseases, is also required,” Michel Thieren, WHO Regional Emergency Director said.

Official data showed 30,000 residential complexes damaged, with over 15,000 completely destroyed. Officials estimate more than 100,000 people have been left homeless by the quake.


Senators’ letter on waiving sanctions


As the death toll from the "horrific" earthquake climbs, and as President Donald Trump remains entirely silent on the matter, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and four Democratic senators sent a letter on Thursday to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, demanding that the White House waive certain sanctions on Iran and allow aid to reach those desperately in need.

"After earthquakes in 2003 and 2012, the United States demonstrated its compassion and goodwill by offering assistance to the Iranian people and allowing private relief donations," the senators wrote. "This time should be no different," wrote.

Under the current sanctions regime, Iranian-Americans living in the US are prohibited from delivering funds to their friends and family members. As Al Jazeera reported on Thursday, several attempts by Iranian-Americans to set up fundraisers for Iran in the days following the earthquake have been stymied by US Treasury Department rules.

As for official US government assistance, the Trump White House has been relatively quiet; the Treasury Department called the quake "tragic" in a statement to the Associated Press, but did not say whether the administration plans to mount any kind of response. Trump, himself, has not said a word about the quake, which Sanders and his Democratic colleagues noted was "the world's deadliest of the year."

Shortly after the earthquake struck, Sanders highlighted the "growing tensions" between the US and Iran – particularly following Trump's decision to decertify the Iran nuclear deal – and argued that providing relief to the Iranian people following such a devastating event "would be an important act of friendship."


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