Thousands of homeless Iranians huddled against the cold late on Monday, a day after at least 450 people were killed in Iran’s deadliest earthquake in more than a decade, state TV said.
Rescue teams kept up search operations for dozens trapped beneath the rubble of collapsed houses in towns and villages in the mountainous area of the western province of Kermanshah that borders Iraq.
Iran’s English-language Press TV said more than 450 people were killed and 7,000 were injured when the magnitude 7.3 earthquake jolted the country on Sunday. Local officials expected the death toll to climb as search and rescue teams reached remote areas of Iran.
The quake was felt in several provinces of Iran but the hardest hit province was Kermanshah. More than 300 of the victims were in Sarpol-e Zahab county in that province, about 15 km (10 miles) from the Iraq border.
Iranian state television said the quake had caused heavy damage in some villages where houses were made of earthen bricks. The quake also triggered landslides that hindered rescue efforts, officials told state television.
At least 14 provinces in Iran had been affected, Iranian media reported. Iranian media reported that a woman and her baby were pulled out alive from the rubble on Monday in Sarpol-e Zahab, the worst hit area with a population of 85,000.
Relief workers said while much aid had been pledged, there was an immediate need for blankets, children’s clothes, medicine and large cans to store drinking water. TV aired footage of some people weeping next to corpses shrouded in blankets.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered his condolences on Monday, urging all government agencies to do all they could to help those affected. State TV appealed for blood donations. The government announced one day mourning on Tuesday.