A boy walks past a building in Darbandikhan that was levelled in Sunday’s earthquake. Photo: Sartip Othman/Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Iraqi government has approved additional funds to support areas affected by Sunday night's earthquake.
"We extend our condolences to those who lost loved ones in the earthquake," Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said, discussing the earthquake during his weekly address on Tuesday after a meeting with his cabinet.
Abadi's cabinet "approved funds to support affected areas and established a committee."
A 10 billion dinar (about $8,584,000) "emergency fund" was allocated to the Ministry of Health for medical supplies.
"The Iraqi government is closely monitoring progress of rescue and relief efforts in all areas affected by the recent earthquake, and has put federal agencies on alert to ensure swift recovery, and to preserve life and property," stated the government on Twitter.
The cabinet formed a "working group" under the group's secretary instructing relevant ministries and bodies to carry out an assessment of the physical and human damage in the provinces of Sulaimani, Diyala, and elsewhere to address immediate needs.
As directed by Abadi, "recovery and medical teams are working with local and international partners to assess needs and to provide urgent relief to the people of Halabja, Diyala, and other areas affected by the recent earthquake," according to a tweet from the government.
The National Committee for Water Resources also met on Tuesday with Abadi to review the structural safety of dams in areas affected by the earthquake and to discuss the country's water policies.
A report on damage to the Darbandikahn Dam was presented by the Ministry of Water Resources, which was authorized to work with international companies. The dam was near the epicenter of the earthquake.
A 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck near Halabja, Kurdistan Region, near the Iran-Iraq border Sunday evening. The tremors could be felt throughout the Middle East.
Hundreds of people were hospitalized in the Kurdistan Region, while at least nine were killed in Darbandikhan and Sulaimani.
Kurdish health officals had previously announced shortages of medicines and supplies.