Iran ends quake rescue operations as hungry survivors battle the cold

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State officials have so far reported that at least 452 people have died and more than 7,000 are injured. The casualties and damage were limited to only Iran and Iraq, though.

Temperatures in Kermanshah province fell close to freezing for the second night in succession. "You can hear children crying, it's too cold. They are holding on to their parents to warm themselves - it's pretty bad", he complained.

Mr Gulani said there were an average of three strong aftershocks an hour, provoking panic.

The region had experienced more than 100 aftershocks within the 24 hours after the natural disaster had hit. It was one of the strongest on earth this year as well as the deadliest.

The Iranian Army, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), the voluntary Basij forces, the Red Crescent and the Islamic Revolution Housing Foundation as well as the ministries of energy, interior affairs, health, and roads and urban development are all providing assistance to the people in need, Rouhani said. Instead, people were having to trek to the other side of town to get water from a tank.

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

The country's president, Hassan Rouhani, travelled on Tuesday to Kermanshah, the area hardest hit and a day of mourning was announced. My family lives in a village near Sarpol-e Zahab.

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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.

Mohammad-Ali Monshizadeh, an official from Kermanshah province, told the Irna state news agency: "Up to now, we have issued 430 death certificates. but an estimated number of 100 to 150 more people have been buried in quake-stricken villages and towns without permission. which raises the overall death toll to between 530 to 580 in Kermanshah".

Nine people were killed in Iraq and 550 were injured, all in the country's northern, semiautonomous Kurdish region, according to the United Nations.

A resident, Khosrow, told BBC Persian: "Walls have fallen on my sisters and father". According to the report, Rouhani said that "the faults and shortcomings in the construction of these buildings should be investigated".

Red Crescent Relief and Rescue teams from Kurdistan and Markazi provincial branches are providing relief and rescue services in the city of Salase-Babajani, teams from Lorestan to Qasre-Shirin and teams from Hamedan to Sare-Pule-Zahab.

Tremors were felt also in the Iraqi provinces of Erbil, Halabja and Dohuk, where Kurds live predominantly.