Iran pledges swift aid after major quake kills 400

Iran: Iranian authorities scrambled on Tuesday to bring help to thousands of people left homeless by a major quake that killed more than 400 people.

As the country marked a day of mourning, President Hassan Rouhani promised swift help following the 7.3-magnitude quake that struck a mountainous region spanning the Iran-Iraq border late Sunday.

Volunteers also rushed to help the displaced after thousands of homes were destroyed in the quake, which rocked a region extending across Iran’s western province of Kermanshah and neighbouring Iraqi Kurdistan.

On Tuesday afternoon, the damage was visible in the town of Sar-e Pol-e Zahab, Iran’s worst hit in the quake.

Residents helped police to evacuate an elderly man from a home at risk of imminent collapse. His face was covered in caked blood and his hand was bandaged.

Several buildings and houses lay in complete ruins, while others stood disfigured after their facades had collapsed. But other structures appeared unscathed.

A team of rescue workers with sniffer dogs combed the ruins for survivors after at least 280 people were killed in the town of some 85,000.

The town centre was clogged with traffic as people from the surrounding province rushed to help with rescue efforts. Some distributed blankets and others handed out water.

Tents, some provided by the Red Crescent, dotted green spaces turned into camps for the displaced. But some did not have shelter from the cold.

“What we need is a tent and covers to be able to get through the night,” said Shima Maryami Kiani, 24, the mother of a three-year-old.