Tehran - Christian communities present in Iran "are involved in the mobilization to assist Iranian brothers and sisters affected by last Sunday’s earthquake. Many go to donate blood, and they all pray for the victims and their families, for the wounded and for those who have lost everything". This is what Iranian Chaldean priest Hormoz Aslani, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Iran, reports to Agenzia Fides. The epicenter of the magnitude 7.2 quake was between Iran and Iraq. "The most affected region in Iran is Kermanshah, and Sarpol-e-Zahab is the worst-hit city. But the earthquake was felt all over the country. And even in our area, in Urmia, we experienced magnitude 3.5 aftershocks".
The Iranian government today decreed a day of national mourning to honor the victims of the earthquake. Official data now speaks of 430 dead and 7150 injured, but the toll is unfortunately likely to rise. Iranian President Herman RohanÝ is expected to visit the province of Kermanshah, which has already called for the cooperation of all international organizations capable of assisting populations affected by natural disasters. All national security bodies - including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - have mobilized to cope with the emergency.
What happened on Sunday evening, November 12, is the worst earthquake recorded in Iran since 2003, when a devastating earthquake led to the deaths of 31,000 people in the country.
In two messages of condolence sent to Iranian and Iraqi authorities, Pope Francis said he was deeply saddened by the "grave earthquake" that struck Iraq and Iran, and assured "all those affected by this tragedy his solidarity in prayer". In expressing his "pain to those who weep the loss of their loved ones", Francis offered "his prayers for those missing". With regards to the injured, the authorities, and those involved in the rescue efforts, the Pope invoked "divine blessings of consolation and strength". >>