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Israel sends condolences to Iran, Iraq after catastrophic earthquake

Rescue workers search for survivors amid the rubble following a 7.3-magnitude earthquake in Sarpol-e Zahab in Iran's western province of Kermanshah on November 13, 2017
Farzad MENATI (TASNIM NEWS/AFP)
Turkey sends aid to Iraq. In Iran, landslides hinder rescue efforts.

A senior Israeli minister offered the peoples of Iran and Iraq condolences following a catastrophic earthquake in the border region that killed some 387 people and injured over six thousand others.

Israel's Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz, who also holds the post of transportation minister, offered "condolences to the people of Iran and Iraq over the loss of human life caused by the earthquake."

The Jewish state does not plan to send assistance to disaster-stricken country, the Times of Israel reported on Monday. 

Iranian rescue workers dug through rubble in a hunt for survivors on Monday after the 7.3-magnitude quake hit a border area 30 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of Halabja in Iraqi Kurdistan at around 9:20 pm (1820 GMT) on Sunday, when many people would have been at home.

The worst affected areas were in Iran's western province of Kermanshah, where the coroner's office told state television that at least 328 people were dead and another 2,350 injured.

Across the border in Iraq, where the areas are more sparsely populated, the health ministry said eight people had died and several hundred been injured.

POURIA PAKIZEH (ISNA/AFP)

Israel, which is regarded as a world leader in disaster relief, made no immediate offer for humanitarian assistance. Neither Iran nor Iraq recognize the State of Israel and no formal diplomatic relations exist between the nations.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson sent his "deepest condolences" to the people of Iraq and Iran and pledged his country's readiness to assist the victims and the recovery effort.

Turkey, meanwhile, dispatched emergency personnel and aid to Iraq with Prime Minister Binali Yildirim expressing "deep sadness" and the devastation.

The Turkish Red Crescent's vice president told The Associated Press that 33 aid trucks were en route to Iraq's Sulaimaniyah carrying 3,000 tents and heaters, 10,000 beds and blankets as well as food.

A Turkish military cargo plane transporting aid and emergency personnel was also dispatched to Iraq, in addition to several other aid dispatches by the country's disaster agency, Turkey's official Anadolu news agency reported.

Farzad MENATI (TASNIM NEWS/AFP)

In Iran, rescue efforts were hindered by landslides in the mountainous border region.

In 1990, a 7.4-magnitude quake near the Caspian sea in northern Iran killed 40,000 people and left 300,000 more injured and half a million homeless. Within seconds the quake reduced dozens of towns and nearly 2,000 villages to rubble.

Thirteen years later, a catastrophic quake struck the ancient southeast Iranian city of Bam, famed for its mud brick buildings, killing at least 31,000 people and flattening swathes of the city.

Following that quake, Israel reportedly considered offering aid but a spokesman for Tehran’s Interior Ministry said the Islamic Republic would not accept the offer.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran accepts all kinds of humanitarian aid from all countries and international organizations with the exception of the Zionist regime," the spokesman said at the time.

Since then, Iran has experienced at least two major quake disasters, one in 2005 that killed more than 600 and another in 2012 that left some 300 dead.

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