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Many Earthquake Survivors Without Shelter, Says MP, As Icy Rain Expected

Earthquake survivors mourn in front of destroyed houses in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017

A member of parliament from the earthquake hit area in Iran has bitterly criticized crisis management after last Sunday’s 7.3 magnitude earthquake that reportedly left more than 470 dead.

But the MP, Ahmad Safari insists that more than 1000 or double the official figures have been killed in the deadliest quake in 2017.

Nevertheless, another MP from the region has branded the comments merely as an “emotional” reaction.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Iran Labor News Agency, ILNA, Safari lamented Wednesday that three days after the quake, many survivors are still living in the rubbles, without receiving any help.

Many in the mainly Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab, home to half the casualties from the temblor, told The Associated Press that they still have not received aid and that they need help to remove debris, so they can retrieve essential belongings.

Reports said more than 12,000 tents were distributed in the area, though more than 30,000 houses were affected by the quake — 15,500 of them completely destroyed. This forced some residents to construct reed huts.

The parliament representative to Islamabad Gharb, a city also located in the earthquake hit area, has maintained, “It is definitely wrong to estimate the number of the victims twice as much as it is officially declared. The officials affiliated with Crisis Management Headquarters, CMH, have based their estimation on their own field report and talking to the local people”.

Nonetheless, Safari has also lambasted the CMH, as an entity in crisis, needing special management.

“Whenever a truck loaded with relief supply enters the area, those who are stronger take the parcels to their tents, while the weaker ones, dressed in black and mourning, are left aside, dumfounded and hungry” Safari has regretfully said.

Though Safari has not directly mentioned earthquake related images widely distributed in social media but, there are many pictures verifying his comments.

Yet, fellow MP, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh has insisted that a campaign by some “hostile media” is going on to smear the Islamic Republic’s reputation and its performance in dealing with the natural disaster.

While admitting that some of the relief trucks were attacked and looted, Falahatpisheh insists that such incidents were quite rare.

In response, Safari affirms that the root of problems is lack of management for the crisis and describes the quake hit areas as the day of judgement.

“Though the situation has somewhat improved but there are still problems unresolved, including lack of tents and heating appliances,” Safari has complained, adding “Probably, only 10% of the villages have received tents, while many people are still living in the rubbles”.

While icy rain is expected at the quake hit areas, many survivors are forced to live in the open air, without heating.

“Some unscrupulous people grab the relief tents and sell them [in the black market]”, Safari has noted.

Reportedly more than 12,000 tents were distributed in the area, though more than 30,000 houses were affected by the quake — 15,500 of them completely destroyed.

United Nations has described Sunday night’s 7.3 magnitude temblor, as the deadliest earthquake in 2017.

The last deadly quake in Iran occurred in Western Azarbaijan province five years ago. At least 300 were killed in the twin quakes with 6.3 and 6.4 magnitude.