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Iranian Lawmakers Slam Earthquake-Relief Efforts

  • RFE/RL's Radio Farda

Iranian parliament members from regions hit by the twin earthquakes on August 11 have harshly criticized the authorities' relief efforts.

More than 300 people died in the two earthquakes, which struck an area in north Iran near Tabriz.

Deputies from the East and West Azerbaijan provinces said local officials arrived in the earthquake-hit areas too late.

Allahverdi Dehghan, a representative of Varzeghan, one of the affected townships, questioned the way the crisis was handled in his town.

"In Varzeghan we faced weak disaster management in a way that it took local officials three hours to show up," Dehghan said, adding that the lack of disaster management was a reason for the high death toll.

According to the Mehr news agency, Dehghan estimated that the quake caused 500 billion tomans (around $350 million) in damages and asked the president to form a special working group for reconstruction.

The lawmakers claimed that not all of the 8,000 tents sent by the Red Cross to the affected areas have reached the 16,000 people left homeless.

"This is very improper that some profiteer traitors receive the tents but later the tents appear somewhere else," Masud Pezeshkian, who represents Tabriz, the capital of East Azerbaijan Province, was quoted by the ISNA news agency as saying.

Pezeshkian also strongly criticized Iranian state television, which he accused of indifference toward the disaster.

Lawmakers also criticized state-run media for its alleged failure to give timely coverage to the situation.

Parliament speaker Ali Larijani asked officials dealing with relief efforts to address the shortcomings.

He also called on state television to take the criticism seriously and understand the plight of the victims.

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