Iran natural disaster: Death toll soars to more than 450

Strong Quake Jolts Western Iran

Close to 200 aftershocks have hit the region since the magnitude-7.3 quake on Sunday night.

The Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicraft Department dispatched several cultural heritage task forces to determine the extent of [possible] damage to each monument, the official said, adding that the five sites can be restored. Numerous villages affected by quake were very remote and hard to reach, said Bagheri.

Iranian state TV said thousands of survivors had spent another night in makeshift camps or in the open. Iranian aid officials say thousands of people do now have emergency shelter, but many thousands more do not.

"It is a very cold night. we need help".

One aid agency said 70,000 people needed shelter and the United Nations said it was "ready to assist if required".

In a statement, the Iranian government expressed sympathy with the bereaved families of the victims and declared Tuesday as a day of mourning across the country. We heard a few aid workers in Sarpol-e Zahab saying that those in the villages were already dead and nothing could be done for them.

He said that the government will take all efforts to solve the problems in the region in the shortest possible time and will help the affected people rebuild their dwellings.

Iranian state news agency Irna said 530 people had died in Iran alone.

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In Iraq, the most extensive damage was seen in the town of Darbandikhan, which is in the Kurdish region, where more than 30 people were injured.

Mansoureh Bagheri, an Iran-based official with the Red Crescent Society, told the BBC about 12,000 residential buildings had "totally collapsed".

"Search operations are reaching their end, with teams constantly monitoring the situation to know if there are still people to extract from the rubble", Behnam Saidi, the spokesman for a crisis unit set up to handle the response to the quake, told state television.

Maj Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari, head of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), said that the immediate needs were tents, water and food.

The Iranian Red Crescent said many areas lacked water and electricity and that aid supplies were being hampered by roads blocked by landslides.

About 30 Red Crescent teams are working in the natural disaster zone, Irna reported.

The epicentre lay 30km (18 miles) south of Halabja in Iraq, but nearly all of the casualties occurred in Iran's Kurdish heartland, in the country's marginalised north-west.

It was 15 miles deep - a shallow depth that can cause broader damage - and was felt for about 20 seconds in Baghdad, as well as in Turkey, Kuwait and Israel.

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