11/15/2017, 19.16
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As expression of solidarity pour in for earthquake victims, questions are raised about construction standards

The number of victims keeps rising, topping 530. Rouhani pledges immediate action. Expressions of solidarity pour in from around the world. Doubts are emerging about the quality of the buildings constructed under Ahmadinejad's government. Since 1990, almost 100,000 people have died in earthquakes.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Conditions for people who survived this year’s worst earthquake, which rocked the border region between Iraq and Iran, continue to be harsh. According to official sources, more than 530 people have died, 432 confirmed, with more than 9,400 injured.

The rest of the country and the international community are sending help to victims. However, serious questions are being asked with respect to construction standards of recently built flats that collapsed.

Kermanshah was the most affected province. Mohammad-Ali Monshizadeh, a local official, said that “Up to now, we have issued 430 death certificates . . . but an estimated number of 100 to 150 more people have been buried in quake-stricken villages and towns without permission . . . which raises the overall death toll to between 530 to 580 in Kermanshah.” An additional 316 people were killed in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab alone.

Iranian authorities have encountered various obstacles in providing support and assistance to the thousands of people forced to sleep outdoor.

Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, on Tuesday travelled to Kermanshah, pledging government action. The country’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said that compassion must be followed by action.

Foreign leaders and officials, including Pope Francis and a spokesperson for the US State Department, have expressed their solidarity to the victims.

Across the country, Iranians are collecting basic items for survivors. Some have donated blood. The city of Sanandaj has offered food, water and blankets.

Fabrizio Cavalletti, head of the Africa and Asia Office of Caritas Italia, told Vatican Radio that Caritas has "expressed solidarity and said it was ready to cooperate with the authorities" in Iran.

Yesterday, the country held a day of national mourning. However, notwithstanding condolence and expressions of closeness, people are asking questions about construction standards after newly constructed buildings collapsed, raising doubts about the quality of the work.

Iran’s first vice-president, Eshaq Jahangiri, said many of the collapsed buildings had been constructed as part of an affordable housing scheme introduced by former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Iranian daily newspaper Hamdeli blamed Ahmadinejad for the scale of destruction, publishing a cartoon on its front page under the headline “This is what you cooked [for us]” showing the former president taking a selfie in the rubble.

This is not the first time that Iran is hit by a major earthquake. In 1990 a quake struck the northern part of the country, killing 35,00 to 50,000 people.

The 2003 earthquake in Bam, in the southern province of Kerman, killed at least 31,000. Since 1990 more than 600 quakes above 5 on the Richter scale have killed almost 100,000 people.

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