Hawzah News Agency (Kermanshah, Iran) - Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, arrived in Kermanshah, early this morning (Monday), to visit the areas struck by the earthquake and meet with the victims. There was no announcement of his visit in advance.
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution first entered the city of Sar-Pul-e-Zahab --one of the earthquake-stricken locations--- and visited some of its affected areas. He then paid a visit to the people of Sar-Pul-e Zahab, and spoke for a few minutes to the city's mournful people.
The Leader of the Revolution expressed his sympathy towards the people in the earthquake-stricken areas, saying: "I share the grief of every single heart here. I wish we could visit you at a better time."
He reminded and praised the bravery of the people of Kermanshah province, by adding: "This is not the first time that troubling events happened to the people of this region. I was also among you during the imposed war. You showed your courage and endurance during the imposed war. You show that courage today, too. Champions and brave individuals [like you] stand and defeat this incident."
Referring to the massive contributions of the Iranian people to the earthquake affected people, Ayatollah Khamenei stated: "It is a tragedy that the people in this region lost about 500 of their loved ones. But, you see how the Irananias consider themselves as part of the population of Kermanshah. People feel they are indebted to Kermanshah. The massive contribution, with everyone helping as much as they can, reveals this."
Calling the efforts of the officials insufficient, The Leader of the Revolution mentioned: "The authorities from different departments worked hard; without them, there would be many more problems; but, I am not content as of yet."
In the end, Ayatollah Khamenei hoped a better future for the people of Kermanshah, stating: "Better times are in front of the people of Kermanshah, and hopefully God gives us the opportunity to come here when the city is built, better than before the earthquake."
The Leader of the Revolution, a few minutes ago, in the earthquake-affected village of Quic said:
"I hope that God places His peace and patience in your hearts. You have many obstacles; even before the earthquake, you had many obstacles, now the earthquake added on new ones. I hope that, because of this earthquake, all problems of this village, neighboring villages, and the region are reduced. I am hopeful and look forward to this. I advised the officials, constantly, since early this morning; and, good measures have been taken: armed forces and other groups have done great work. I will continue to supervise and look forward to seeing better efforts, so major parts of your problems may be resolved. I am glad to meet your devout, happy, and enthusiastic youth and people here. May God protect you all."
Alongside Ayatollah Khamenei's unexpected visit to earthquake-stricken areas of Kermanshah Province, a meeting was held between the Leader of the Revolution and officials in charge of disaster relief, intending to remove obstacles in the way of helping the victims. At the meeting decisions were made regarding the reconstruction and relief efforts in the area.
At this meeting, where a group of local officials and police commanders had gathered, Ayatollah Khamenei said: "The first priority is to provide the earthquake-affected people with housing and reconstruct the damaged and destroyed areas. This requires support from various military and non-military sectors, central and organized management, voluntary work with swiftness."
Ayatollah Khamenei stressed that people should feel the progress of the relief offered and added: "Numerous places have been damaged by this earthquake, besides Sar-Pol-Zahab some other towns have been heavily damaged, some villages have been totally destroyed—which are of critical importance."
Ayatollah Khamenei turned his focus to the hardship and difficulties that the earthquake-afflicted people have to deal with. He stated: "Because we have not been afflicted by the earthquake, we might not understand what hardships the earthquake-stricken people have to go through. Those who were living next to their family members in peace, with proper housing, have now lost all their properties and loved ones: all of a sudden their lives have been summed up into one tent during a cold season."
The Leader of the Revolution went on to say: "Based on my visit to some of the earthquake-stricken areas and given the large area afflicted, if the issue of saving the victims had not been carried out rapidly, during the first hours, certainly the number of losses would have increased multiple times."
Ayatollah Khamenei also pointed to several meetings he attended with government officials right after the 2003 earthquake in Bam, stating: "During those meetings, the Crisis Management Headquarters was formed to take action in the first moments of any natural disaster."
Finally, Ayatollah Khamenei thanked officials who had made great efforts to help the victims. He called the reconstruction of people's housing, as well as providing heating facilities, a necessity and said: "In addition to the urgent needs: like food, water, shelter, and clothing; as a next step, collecting waste materials from cities and villages and providing the housing, which is a major difficult task, must be carried out."