Iran: Foreign help after quake welcome

2012-08-14 21:48

Tehran - Iran said on Tuesday it now welcomes foreign aid for victims of the deadly twin earthquakes that hit the country's northwest over the weekend.

The remarks indicate authorities were still struggling to cope with the quakes' aftermath.
Critics charged they failed to react quickly enough to help the region along the borders with Azerbaijan and Armenia, where the 6.4 and 6.3 magnitude quakes on Saturday killed 306 people and injured more than 3 000.

Iran's government said it has provided shelter for about 50 000 people who lost their homes during the quakes, which have been followed by scores of aftershocks.

A magnitude 5.3 aftershock on Tuesday afternoon jolted the town of Varzaqan again, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. Varzaqan was one of the weekend epicentres.


The Tuesday aftershock quake also rocked Tabriz, the provincial capital, where frightened people poured into streets. No further casualties were reported. Many Tabriz residents have stayed outdoors, some in public parks, since the first tremors.

The weekend quakes hit the towns of Ahar, Haris and Varzaqan in the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan. At least 12 villages were destroyed, and 425 others sustained damage ranging from 50 to 80% of their buildings, state TV and news agencies reported. The stricken region has a population of about 300 000.

Many roads and other infrastructure were heavily damaged. State TV showed relief workers distributing tents and helping survivors, mainly in rural areas. Authorities said the quake caused some $600m in damage.

In Tehran and other major cities, people stood in long lines to donate blood for the injured.

Changed mind

For two days after the quakes, Tehran insisted it needed no foreign assistance to handle the situation, but on Tuesday, Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said Iran is now welcoming assistance from abroad for the quake victims.

On Monday, Iran's Red Crescent sent back a rescue team from Turkey that arrived without advance co-ordination. The head of Red Crescent Society of in the quake-stricken province also said international aid was not needed.

Spokesperson Pouya Hajian told the semiofficial ISNA news agency that the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Unicef, Turkey, Taiwan, Singapore, Germany and many embassies in Tehran had offered help, but that the Iranian Red Crescent was able to handle the quake-stricken areas.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Monday that the US had not had "any pickup" from Iran on Washington's offer of assistance, and noted Iranian public statements that it did not need outside aid. "Nonetheless, our offer stands on the table," she said.


Nuland said despite US economic sanctions on Iran, Americans wishing to provide food and medicine to victims of the disaster could do so without obtaining a special license, and certain non-commercial financial transactions were also possible.

The Tehran turnaround came on Tuesday.

"Now and under the current circumstances, we are ready to receive help from various countries," Rahmi was quoted as saying by state IRNA news agency.

His about face followed scathing criticism at home.

Lawmakers lashed out at the government over what they called its "slow reaction", Iranian newspapers reported on Tuesday. The independent Sharq daily quoted legislator Allahvedi Dehqani from Varzaqan as saying initial aid arrived three hours after the quake jolted his constituency.


Lawmaker Masoud Pezeshkian said that when a 6.4 quake causes "such a big loss, the main problem is mismanagement".

Over the past few years, the Iranian government has offered low-interest loans for projects to reinforce buildings in rural areas. The campaign has been ineffective, mostly due to lack of supervision.

Official statistics indicate only 20% of the buildings in rural areas have metal or concrete frames.

On Monday, the government announced it would grant about $3 500 to each family whose property was damaged in the quakes, and would offer a $10 000 low-interest loan for reconstruction of family homes.

Iran is located on seismic fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. In 2003, some 26 000 people were killed by a 6.6 magnitude quake that flattened the historic south-eastern city of Bam.

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-08-15 05:34

    . WHERE are Irasn's close friends?????? Russia is too busy advising , these assad terrorists, on how to kill as many opposition members as possible China is to busy securing raw minerals in Africa, and at the same time buying large parts of this continent! Nice friends !!!!!

  • delish7564 - 2012-08-15 07:58

    I suppose ft's a step in the right direction, finally accepting outise help for its people....will be interesting to see which countries it allows in.

      jaba.kov - 2012-08-15 08:19

      You can’t invite friends if you don’t have any... The Arab league can’t stand Iran because it tries to implement their type of Islam since the revolution in the 70's. The West can’t stand Iran because they keep threatening a member state of the UN with annihilation while trying to build an ‘A’ bomb. Russia & China like Iran’s minerals in the ground but can stand the crazy Mullahs in the seat of power. Cuba and Venezuela would send help but can’t afford to, not surprising why. while the South African government under the leadership of the ANC would send help however the majority if any of our trained rescuers would probably refuse to go; as the SA government rarely speaks on behalf of the SA people – the ANC only win elections due to past events and even their electorate usually fights their own government on their methods, remember: tolls, corruption, nepotism, service delivery, union control etc etc. To Conclude, Iran is on its own – until such a time as they come to a decision they want to join planet earth as part of a solution and not the problem.

  • - 2012-08-15 08:22

    Now the money of infidel's in America and elsewhere is good enough? Al their funds are chanelled to the nuke reactors, so no money for the citizens in crisis. Hope for a spring rising in Iran, I have a lot of Muslem friend, none even remotely as fanatical as those warmongers in Tehran

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-15 09:28

      Iran, warmongers?

      anwar.rassool - 2012-08-15 09:40

      Iran aids Assad in killing Syrians daily. rebels from Iran regularly cross the border to join forces with Assad's troops, to murder and rape innocent people. This is an undisputed fact confirmed by many Syrians I have met crossing the border and now living in Turkey.

  • rick.kabose - 2012-08-15 09:14

    Perhaps if they allow IAEA inspectors in to investigate their nuclear activities they should receive some help, else , go fly a kite.

      dylan.sciarappa - 2012-08-15 09:24

      Um Rick they have allowed inspectors in numerous times. Unlike Israel.

      DSBennie - 2012-08-15 09:38

      @dylan, inspectors are only allowed where Iran lets them go, and new secret facilities are found all the time, Israel has not signed the non-proliferation treaty and thus can legally obtain nuclear weapons if the so wish, much in the same way that India and Pakistan obtained their weapons, they are not required to undergo inspection

      dylan.sciarappa - 2012-08-15 09:54

      @ds. To say that Israel can have nuclear weapons and Iran cannot is totally illogical and is beyond reason, besides even the Mossad and CIA have come out and said that Iran is not trying to acquire nuclear weapons

      rick.kabose - 2012-08-15 11:19

      Dylan. Difference between Iran and Israel is the Israeli's would use the bomb as an absolute last resort. Iran,can they be trusted not to hand radiological materials to hizbolla or hamas ? Never mind them having the bomb. If it came to total war,iran would incinerate Europe,Italy,your ancestors home would be irradiated for generations.Sound fun? More reasons to get the Russians on side or involved with the Nato missile sheild.

      dylan.sciarappa - 2012-08-15 12:41

      Rick stop listening to us and Israeli govt propaganda. Just like Iraq u falling for the same old story of WMDs. Iran aren't trying to develop them the CIA and Mossad have admitted this. Do u think the Iranian leadership are stupid? Using a nuke on Israel would mean the total annihilation of Iran.

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