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Iran to probe state-built homes destroyed by deadly quake

  • A woman mourns at an earthquake site in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Rescuers are digging through the debris of buildings felled by the Sunday earthquake in the border region of Iran and Iraq. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • An earthquake survivor carries his belongings in front of damaged buildings, in a compound which was built under the Mehr state-owned program, in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says his administration will probe the cause of so much damage to buildings constructed under the Mehr program after a powerful earthquake hit the area along the border with Iraq on Sunday which killed hundreds of people. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • Rescuers work on the debris on the earthquake site in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Rescuers are digging through the debris of buildings felled by the Sunday earthquake in the border region of Iran and Iraq. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • Rescuers carry away the body of an earthquake victim in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Rescuers are digging through the debris of buildings felled by the Sunday earthquake that killed more than four hundreds of people in the border region of Iran and Iraq. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • Survivors sit on the debris while rescuers search on the earthquake site in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Rescuers on Tuesday used backhoes and heavy equipment to dig through the debris of buildings toppled by a powerful earthquake on the border between Iran and Iraq. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • A rescue worker walks past the rubble of a collapsed building at an earthquake site in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Rescuers are digging through the debris of buildings fallen by Sunday's earthquake in the border region of Iran and Iraq. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • An earthquake survivor sits on debris in front of his house in a compound, which was built under the Mehr state-owned program, in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says his administration will probe the cause of so much damage to buildings constructed under the state-owned program after a powerful earthquake hit the area along the border with Iraq on Sunday which killed over 400 people. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • An earthquake survivor carries her belongings over debris in front of her house, in a compound which was built under the Mehr state-owned program, in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says his administration will probe the cause of so much damage to buildings constructed under the state-owned program after a powerful earthquake hit the area along the border with Iraq on Sunday which killed over 400 people. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • Earthquake survivors carry their belongings in front of damaged buildings, in a compound which was built under the Mehr state-owned program, in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said his administration will probe the cause of so much damage to buildings constructed under the state-owned program after a powerful earthquake hit the area along the border with Iraq on Sunday which killed over 400 people. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • An earthquake survivor weeps in front of her house in a compound which was built under the Mehr state-owned program, in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says his administration will probe the cause of so much damage to buildings constructed under the Mehr program after a powerful earthquake hit the area along the border with Iraq on Sunday which killed hundreds of people. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • Earthquake survivors remove debris to salvage their belongings in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. A powerful earthquake hit the area along the border with Iraq on Sunday and killed over 400 people.(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • Earthquake survivors carry their belongings in front of damaged buildings, in a compound which was built under the Mehr state-owned program, in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says his administration will probe the cause of so much damage to buildings constructed under the Mehr program after a powerful earthquake hit the area along the border with Iraq on Sunday which killed over 400 people. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • Buildings are damaged by an earthquake in a compound which was built under the Mehr state-owned program, in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says his administration will probe the cause of so much damage to buildings constructed under the Mehr program after a powerful earthquake hit the area along the border with Iraq on Sunday which killed over 400 people. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • Survivors sit in front of a destroyed house on the earthquake site in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Rescuers are digging through the debris of buildings felled by the Sunday earthquake in the border region of Iran and Iraq. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • A rescue worker searches the debris with his sniffing dog on the earthquake site in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Rescuers are digging through the debris of buildings felled by the Sunday earthquake that killed more than four hundreds of people in the border region of Iran and Iraq. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • A woman sits on the debris on the earthquake site in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Rescuers are digging through the debris of buildings felled by the Sunday earthquake in the border region of Iran and Iraq. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • People and rescuers move a destroyed car on the earthquake site in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Rescuers are digging through the debris of buildings felled by the Sunday earthquake in the border region of Iran and Iraq. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • An earthquake survivor collects belongings from her damaged apartment at a compound which was built under the Mehr state-owned program, in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says his administration will probe the cause of so much damage to buildings constructed under the state-owned program after a powerful earthquake hit the area along the border with Iraq on Sunday which killed over 400 people. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi

  • An earthquake survivor weeps as she sits in front of damaged buildings, in a compound which was built under the Mehr state-owned program, in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says his administration will probe the cause of so much damage to buildings constructed under the Mehr program after a powerful earthquake hit the area along the border with Iraq on Sunday which killed over 400 people. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) Vahid Salemi



Associated Press
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani launched an investigation Tuesday into why government housing built by his hard-line predecessor collapsed while others withstood a powerful earthquake near the border with Iraq that killed more than 530 people.

In the Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab, which was reconstructed in the decades since the 1980s war with Iraq, the outer walls of apartment complexes tumbled away in the magnitude 7.3 earthquake Sunday night. The housing was built as a part of the “Mehr” or “kindness” project of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Some now-homeless survivors simply wept outside, while others angrily showed Associated Press journalists the destruction done by the quake.

“Other buildings near our apartment are not damaged as much because they were built privately,” said Ferdows Shahbazi, 42, who lived in one of the Mehr buildings.

She sarcastically added: “This is ‘kindness’ as the name suggests very well!”

Rescuers used backhoes and other heavy equipment to dig through toppled buildings in Sarpol-e-Zahab, home to more than half of the dead. The apartment complexes sit next to lush pastures in the almost entirely Kurdish province of Kermanshah, nestled in the Zagros Mountains along the border with Iraq.

Both rescuers and residents stood on the remains of homes, looking through the rubble.

The quake badly damaged the Sarpol-e-Zahab hospital, forcing the army to set up field clinics.