The Iranian regime has a reputation of putting its people last in many areas, particularly during natural disasters. Resources are not allocated to assist individuals in living in the disaster areas. Rescue efforts are also limited, as the regime downplays how much damage was done.
On Sunday, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit the Iraq-Iran border, just as most individuals were heading to bed. The worst damage appeared to be in the Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah. This almost entirely Kurdish province nestled in the Zagros Mountains suffered all of Iran’s fatalities from the tremor that shook 14 of the country’s 31 provinces.
The government housing built by former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad collapsed while privately built apartment complexes did not suffer as much damage. The buildings were part of the “Mehr” or “kindness” project of the Iranian regime.
“Other buildings near our apartment are not damaged as much because they were built privately,” said Ferdows Shahbazi, who lived in one of the Mehr buildings. “This is ‘kindness’ as the name suggests very well!”
On Monday, November 13, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) brigadier Mohammad Ali Jafari tried to minimize the extent of casualties in an interview with the regime’s TV, and said that there were only a few people left under the rubble. He also indicated that all the necessary aid had reached the region or would be sunset on Monday.
However, reports from other sources paints a different picture, one that includes a growing list of dead and a large number of injured individuals, over 7,000. According to the BBC, the Iranian government is scrambling to get aid to the worst-hit areas. Meanwhile, temperatures have been close to freezing in the area for the past two nights. People are burning boxes and crates in an attempt to stay warm. Approximately 70,000 individuals are in need of aid. Many Iranians say that aid is not coming fast enough.
The Iranian Red Crescent noted that many areas lacked water and electricity, but the aid supplies were also being hampered by roads blocked by landslides.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) President-elect Maryam Rajavi sent her condolences to those in Iran affected by the earthquake and encouraged the youth in the area to rescue people who are trapped under debris and to deliver aid directly to the stricken people and the injured. The NCRI also noted that the regime was trying to downgrade the damage and loss of life because there is a fear of an angry backlash from the Iranian people.
“In these difficult moments, when all the people of Iran are anxious and concerned about the lives of those stuck under the rubble, what adds to the public’s distress is the clerical regime’s criminal record in such natural disasters of dragging its feet and dodging its responsibility in saving the lives of people. This is all the more reason for our compatriots, particularly the courageous youths, who reside in western Iran to rush to the aid of people in the quake-stricken areas and help those trapped under the wreckage,” said Rajavi in a statement. “Just as we are opposed to the practices of the clerical regime, now is the time to show solidarity. Assisting and saving the victims of the earthquake is a sacred national duty. Our prayers are for the rescue of the quake victims and the recovery of those injured and wounded.”
Residents have been told to sleep outside of their homes as a precautionary measure, while additional aftershocks continue. Yet, the lack of shelter is problematic, as the weather is turning cold and there is no protection for those living outdoors.
“The United Nations stands ready to assist efforts to respond to the deadly earthquake that struck Iran and Iraq on Sunday,” said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.