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More Quake Survivors Perishing In Cold Without Adequate Shelter

An Iranian child stands near temporary tents for earthquake victims in Kermanshah Province, Iran, 16 November 2017. Thousands still live in temporary tents, without heating.

Following Iran’s most disastrous earthquake in 2017, several survivors have died from the cold in Kermanshah Province.

The 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit Kermanshah on November 12, forcing locals into the streets and rushing to recover neighbors trapped under the rubble.

More than 600 people lost their lives in the quake while more than 70,000 were displaced.

According to Iranian Parliament's official website, MP Shehab Naderi has said, “In addition to Sarina Zahabi, several other children, including an eight-month-old baby, have died of fever and frostbite.”

Previously, the daily Qanoon had reported that a 2-year-old girl, Sarina Zahabi, who was living with her family in a tent, lost her life due to the cold weather.

Naderi, who represents the city of Paveh, insisted the legal-medical examiner had confirmed they had died due to the cold weather. He did no elaborate on the number of those who have perished.

The MP cited health officials in his constituency as saying that pregnant women in the earthquake-hit areas, deprived of heating in makeshift shelters, are particularly at risk.

Following the disclosures by Naderi, a health ministry official insisted on Monday, February 5 that although "30% of survivors are still in makeshift tents, we have no reports of deaths due to cold".

On January 27, pro-reformist daily Sharq also reported that at least three more children, including a 17-year-old girl with disabilities, had died of frostbite.

The small town of Ezgeleh in Kermanshah province was closest to the center of the earthquake that happened in western Iran on 12 Nov 2017
The small town of Ezgeleh in Kermanshah province was closest to the center of the earthquake that happened in western Iran on 12 Nov 2017

Tasnim news agency, run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, also reported on January 26 that a four-month-old baby was the second victim of frostbite. The baby’s father, Abdollah Saifouri, told Tasnim, “I applied for a container [metal shipping container] to live in, but they [authorities] said there are others on the priority list.”

Former Tehran City Councilor and manager of the Mehr-Afarin charity center Fatemeh Daneshvar told Sharq, “So far, we have received reports of the deaths of five children under the age of 5 due to freezing cold weather.”

But there have been more reports of children and adults dying of the cold. Although the ezact number is not clear, but at least ten people have parished.

However, Kermanshah Province Governor Houshang Bazvand categorically denies the reports. “I am 100 percent sure that nobody has died of the cold weather in earthquake-hit areas,” he said.

Meanwhile, referring to an official report, Naderi said 97 survivors in disaster-hit areas have either committed suicide or attempted to take their own lives.

More than two months after the earthquake, some survivors still have no access to hygienic restrooms while many have not had a shower in the past 70 days, Naderi noted.

Officials’ promises to provide survivors with either loans of 50 million rials (roughly $1,100) or shipping containers to live in have not been fulfilled in many areas, he said.

A health official, Mohsen Farhadi, admitted that restrooms and baths in the quake-hit areas are being installed but have not been completed.

Another MP, Farhad Tajjari, said at least 35 percent to 40 percent of survivors have no shipping containers to live in and are forced to live in tents even in the extreme cold of winter, as temperatures plunge below freezing.

The aid tents provided are not capable of protecting people from cold, storms, or rain.

Moreover, many of the containers distributed among survivors have no heating system.