Iran's government criticized over earthquake response
Members of parliament and the Iranian public blame the government for a shortage of tents and attention given to survivors of two large earthquakes that killed 300 people.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Iran's government faced criticism from lawmakers and the public on Monday over its handling of relief efforts after two large earthquakes killed 300 people and injured thousands in the northwest of the country.Skip to next paragraph
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Members of parliament representing the affected areas complained about the shortage of tents for survivors, parliamentary news agency ICANA said on Monday, and Iran's top lawmaker Ali Larijani stepped into the debate.
"The crisis management headquarters must take broader steps to alleviate these concerns," Larijani, a rival to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and possible candidate in the 2013 presidential elections, was quoted as saying on Monday.
Although officials announced on Sunday, less than 24 hours after the disaster, that search and rescue operations had finished and all survivors had been freed from the rubble, some residents expressed disbelief that authorities could have reached some of the most remote villages so soon.
"I know the area well. There are some regions where there are villages that you can't even reach by car," one doctor in the city of Tabriz told Reuters by telephone on Monday, declining to give his name because of the sensitivity of the issue. "It's not possible for them to have finished so soon."
Citizens step up
The doctor said he had worked for 24 hours non-stop following the quake, attending to patients from surrounding villages who were rushed to Tabriz for medical care.
"In the first hours after the quake, it was ordinary people and volunteers in their own cars going to the affected areas," the doctor said. "It was more ordinary people helping out than official crisis staff."
The moderate conservative newspaper Asr-e Iran reported that a full 24 hours after the earthquake, some villages had not yet been visited by relief teams.
"[Residents] say that most of the villages have been destroyed and still no tents have been sent, nor has any help been sent for the victims," the report said.
Two large quakes with magnitudes of 6.4 and 6.3 struck East Azerbaijan province on Saturday afternoon, flattening villages and injuring thousands around the towns of Ahar, Varzaghan, and Harees, near the provincial capital of Tabriz.
Officials deny sluggishness
Officials said the emergency response to the disaster was rapid, even though relief teams were hampered by the remoteness of quake-hit villages.