Iran relief effort to earthquake victims criticized by local residents

Iranian relief efforts were criticized on Monday by lawmakers and local residents for being too slow.

Critics said that many of the affected areas had yet to be reached by emergency responders, while emergency aid was inadequate to serve the thousands affected by the natural disaster.

Reuters said that one lawmaker estimated that more than 150,000 people were displaced and damages were estimated at more than $50 million.

Health officals in Iran said that the majority of the dead were women and children.

Thousands were injured in the twin quakes.

The Iranian Red Crescent ended search and rescue operations 24 hours after the earthquakes and refused any help from the United States and Russia, the Journal reported. The US Institute of Peace also noted that Iran had rejected aid offers from Turkey, Taiwan, and Germany.

Yet, the Wall Street Journal reported that many volunteers in villages near Tabriz were still working non-stop to free buried residents, as relief agencies had not yet reached the scene.

They were said to be burning bodies in mass graves as there was no way to transport the dead out of the area.

Time described the horrorific scene through eyewitness accounts.

“The moment the earthquake hit, it was like a snake biting from underground. It was the worst experience of my life,” Morteza Javid, 47, from the village of Ahar, told Time.

“The walls were shaking and moving from side to side. It took about a minute before I could run out of the house. Seconds before the earthquake, crows were making a lot of noise, but I didn’t understand why. It was only after the quake that I learned the crows were warning us.”

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