Officials raise Iran-Iraq quake death toll to 530


"The rescue operations in Kermanshah province have ended", Pir-Hossein Kolivand, head of Iran's Emergency Medical Services, said. "We had to leave without being able to help them".

"The weather is turning colder now".

Iranian officials called off rescue operations, saying there was little chance of finding more survivors from the quake that shook parts of western Iran on Sunday, killing at least 530 people, state media said on Tuesday.

It also triggered landslides in the mountainous region along the Iran-Iraq border and destroyed buildings, shattering windows and sending people running for safety. But in the more isolated and worst-hit Sunni localities, Sunni charities-including those of Islah and Dawa Group, an Iranian Islamist group close to the Muslim Brotherhood-were said to have arrived on the scene first with tents and water. Numerous victims lived in the social housing complexes that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had built when he was president barely a decade ago.

"The tents provided by the Red Crescent are not enough", said the region's parliamentary representative, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, according to the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA).

Besides, Mohammad Ali Bosaqzadeh, deputy for production control at the National Petrochemical Company, said that the strong natural disaster has damaged neither the petrochemical plants in western provinces nor the West Ethylene Pipeline that runs from Asalouyeh by the Persian Gulf to West Azarbaijan province in northwest Iran.

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The quake struck about 30 km south of the Iraqi town Darbandikhan, near the north-eastern border with Iran.

"It slightly damaged five historical sites including a Safavid-era caravanserai and a Sassanid-era fortress in the counties of Qasr-e Shirin, Sarpol-e Zahab and Dalahu in Kermanshah province while assessing the damage is still ongoing", CHTN cited the provincial tourism chief, Jalil Baalai, as saying. The casualties and damage were limited to only Iran and Iraq, though. "The temperature tonight will drop below freezing and many people will be left outside their homes". Many warned that the low-quality construction could be problematic.

"Today, we sent our ambulances to villages in areas affected by the quake to help people rescued yesterday, including changing their bandages", he said.

The area, about 10 miles from the border with Iraq, is in the Kermanshah province.

Hundreds of ambulances and dozens of army helicopters were reported to have joined the rescue effort after supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the government and armed forces to mobilise "all their means". The whole village is ruined.