Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called on the authorities to provide more aid for the survivors of a devastating earthquake that hit the country’s west more than a week ago.
Khamenei spoke on November 20 during a visit to Kermanshah Province, which was hit hard by the 7.3-magnitude quake that killed at least 530 people and left thousands injured or homeless amid bitterly cold temperatures.
Survivors of the quake that struck near the Iran-Iraq border on November 12 still face shortages of essential supplies such as food, heating appliances, and tents.
Addressing residents of the town of Sarpol-e Zahab, Khamenei praised the rescue and relief operations but also expressed dissatisfaction over how the aid has been delivered to the people affected by the quake.
"I believe that officials should double their efforts," said Khamenei, who also paid a visit to the provincial capital, Kermanshah.
Khamenei’s visit comes as a number of Iranian lawmakers criticized the insufficient distribution of aid in the quake-stricken areas.
“The situation in earthquake-hit areas needs attention; otherwise, we are going to face a disaster worse that the earthquake itself,” said parliamentary deputy Farhad Tajari, according to the semiofficial ISNA news agency.
“Unfortunately, because of the poor distribution of relief packages, some areas have enough food but not enough clothes and other districts have the opposite,” Tajari said, adding that affected areas also face power outages and a lack of sanitary facilities.
Another lawmaker, Javad Hosseini Kia, said that the financial aid allocated by the government to the survivors was not enough to buy essential goods.
“It is only offering 50 million rials ($1,250) in gratuitous financial aid for villagers and 60 million rials ($1,500) for city dwellers,” Hosseini Kia said. “With such minimal grants, people cannot get essential goods, let alone repair their damaged houses.”
Meanwhile, the official IRNA news agency quoted government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht as saying that affected households in Kermanshah Province will receive at least $6,200 in loans and $1,250 in grants.
The semiofficial Tasnim news agency reported that, since the earthquake hit, garbage has built up in the streets and parks and around tents where survivors have taken shelter in Kermanshah Province.
Ebrahim Shakiba, at the Medical Science University of Kermanshah, warned that the danger of a cholera outbreak is looming in the quake-hit areas where trash is not being properly collected.
With reporting by AP, IRNA, ISNA, and Tasnim