With successive aftershocks still rumbling through western Iran more than 18 hours after a massive earthquake on Sunday night, the province of Kermanshah, hit hardest by the temblor, declared three days of mourning.
Western regions of Iran, particularly residential areas in the province of Kermanshah, have felt scores of tremors, some even measuring greater than 4.5 on the Richter scale, after the Sunday night’s massive earthquake that has killed above 372 people so far.
As on Monday morning, at least 372 people have been killed and 6,000 injured in the quake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, whose epicenter was near Halabjah, southeast of Iraq’s Sulaymaniyah.
The province of Kermanshah declared three days of mourning, as rescue teams from across the country have hurried to dig out survivors stuck under the rubble and save the wounded.
In a telephone conversation with President Hassan Rouhani after the natural disaster, Governor of Kermanshah Hooshang Bazvand expected that the death toll would rise.
Meanwhile, the provincial police chief, General Manouchehr Amanollahi assured people that full security prevails across the quake-hit areas, saying all roads are open and the traffic flow is normal.
One of the cities hit hardly by the massive quake is Sarpol-e Zahab. Witnesses say they were appalled to see the city skyline on Monday morning, saying half of the buildings seem to have been destroyed.
After a terrible night and ongoing blackout, Sarpol-e Zahab is receiving more rescue team and sniffer dogs searching for survivors buried under the rubble.
Officials say the access to rural areas is still limited.
Field hospitals have been set up in the quake-hit areas.
In a message on Monday morning, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei ordered all Iranian officials to rush to help the large number of people affected by the earthquake, and particularly rescue those trapped under rubble in the very first hours after the disaster.
(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)