Earthquake levelled whole buildings in Kurdistan’s Darbandikhan
By Sartip Othman
Sunday evening, people across the Kurdistan Region and Iranian Kurdistan fled their homes, grabbing their children as buildings swayed and buckled in a 7.3 magnitude earthquake that killed seven people in the Kurdistan Region and at least 407 in Iran. The epicenter of the quake was near Halabja.
At least 320 people were taken to hospital in the Kurdistan Region – some suffering from shock – and 6,700 were reported injured in Iran, according to official figures.
The town of Darbandikhan suffered some of the most serious damage in the Kurdistan Region. A number of buildings were damaged, some collapsed entirely. The Darbandikhan dam was also damaged and is currently being assessed. Cracks have appeared in the dam and the road.
The integrity of the dam was discussed by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the Supreme National Committee for water on Monday.
The committee was informed that all dams in the country were safe, but Darbandikhan dam will be monitored "to ensure the safety of its basic structure," according to a statement from Abadi's media office.
The United Nations has sent an assessment team to Darbandikhan. The United Nations was also requested by the government of Iraq to send its Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team. “This team is a highly specialised team that will help to assess conditions and coordinate the response,” said Lise Grande, the United Nation’s humanitarian coordinator in Iraq.
She also confirmed that the World Health Organization (WHO) had sent an emergency response team and two ambulances to Sulaimani Hospital to aid caring for the wounded.
“The key is to act quickly so we can help prevent any further loss of life,” Grande said.
A Turkish plane carrying medical and emergency aid also arrived in Sulaimani on Monday.
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister said on Monday that they have also sent teams to assess the damage and no effort would be spared to help those affected by the quake.
Pope Frances extended his condolences to the victims and offered "his prayerful solidarity."
"Upon the injured and the emergency and civil authorities engaged in rescue and recovery efforts, His Holiness invokes the divine blessings of consolation and strength," read a statement from the Vatican.