World sends condolences over Iraq-Iran quake as death toll surges to 445

Updated 2017-11-14 13:34:13 Xinhua
Rescuers search for survivors in front of damaged buildings in Sarpol-e Zahab, Iran, Nov. 13, 2017. (Xinhua/Ahmad Halabisaz)

Rescuers search for survivors in front of damaged buildings in Sarpol-e Zahab, Iran, Nov. 13, 2017. (Xinhua/Ahmad Halabisaz)

The international community has offered condolences to the governments and peoples of Iraq and Iran, which suffered a devastating earthquake on Sunday with heavy casualties, and pledged immediate aid for relief work.

A powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck near the Iran-Iraq border area on Sunday, causing the deaths of 445 people while injuring more than 7,000 others, with more still buried in ruins.

The United Nations said it stands ready to assist efforts to respond to the temblor, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday.

The UN chief "is deeply saddened by the loss of life and damage" after the 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck the border regions of the two countries, said a statement issued by his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The secretary-general conveyed his condolences to the bereaved families and to the governments and people of Iran and Iraq, and wished those injured a speedy recovery, it said.

In message of condolences to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed sympathy and support to the family and friends of the deceased in the earthquake along the Iran-Iraq border and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

Russian Emergency Minister Vladimir Puchkov said in messages of condolences to Iranian and Iraqi authorities that the ministry is ready to help the two countries deal with the consequences of the natural disaster.

The earthquake is the deadliest of the year, eclipsing the one that hit Mexico City in September, and was felt as far away as Turkey and Pakistan.

Its epicenter was located approximately 32 km south of the city of Halabja in a remote mountainous region of eastern Iraq, some 200 km north-east of Baghdad and 400 km west of Tehran, according to the United States Geological Survey.

"The people and government of Pakistan extend deepest condolences and sympathies on the grievous loss of precious human lives and injuries caused to hundreds of others by the devastating earthquake," Pakistan said in a statement issued by its foreign ministry.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said, "We pray for the speedy recovery of the injured," the statement said.

"At this hour of their anguish and pain, the people and government of Pakistan firmly stand by our Iranian and Iraqi brethren," Asif said.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena offered his condolences to the victims of the Iraq-Iran earthquake.

"My deepest condolences and sympathies to the victims of the earthquake that struck the border region between Iraq and Iran. Hope the people will overcome the calamity with their spirit of resilience," Sirisena said in a message on his official Twitter account.

"My thoughts are with all those who have lost their loved ones in the tragic earthquake that has affected parts of Iran and Iraq," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Office tweeted.

"I pray that those injured recover at the earliest," Modi said.

Iran is one of the most seismically active countries in the world, being crossed by several major fault lines that cover at least 90 percent of the country. As a result, destructive earthquakes in Iran occur constantly.

In a statement, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirmed that Egypt stands with the peoples of Iraq and Iran during such an ordeal.

Turkey was also among the countries that pledged to support victims of the earthquake which occurred in the early hours of Monday.

"Turkey wholeheartedly stands with the brotherly victims of the earthquake," Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in a written statement.

The Turkish government has sent an aid convoy to meet the medical and food needs of earthquake victims, the prime minister said.

Around 70,000 people are in need of emergency shelter after tremors were felt across the Middle East, including Turkey, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, reports said.

A few hours after the earthquake, the Turkish Red Crescent Society rapidly sent a rescue team to the earthquake-hit region in northern Iraq late Sunday, and state-run Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) also provided victims with basic necessities such as blankets.

The government of Sudan conveyed condolences to the peoples and governments of Iraq and Iran together with the families of the victims of earthquake.

"Sudan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the name of Sudan government and people, expresses its sincere condolences to the Iraqi and Iranian peoples and to the families of the victims of the deadly earthquake which hit the Iraqi-Iranian border areas," said the ministry in a statement Monday.

The deadliest quake in Iran's modern history happened in June 1990, which destroyed the northern cities of Rudbar, Manjil, and Lushan, along with hundreds of villages, killing about 37,000 people.

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