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Iran Earthquake Disaster....


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source: http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/12...uake/index.html

Aid arrives as quake toll rises

Saturday, December 27, 2003 Posted: 1307 GMT ( 9:07 PM HKT)

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- The provisional death toll from a devastating earthquake in southeastern Iran has risen into the tens of thousands as rescue workers continue to scour through the debris for survivors and international aid begins to arrive.

The Interior Ministry says up to 20,000 people died in the quake and at least 30,000 were injured.

However, other government officials say the number of dead is much lower -- likely about 5,000. Others say an accurate casualty count was impossible with many victims still trapped and also the inaccessibility of some areas to rescue crews.

"The disaster is far too huge for us to meet all of our needs," Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said. "However, all the institutions have been mobilized."

The Interior Ministry's death toll estimate, broadcast on state television Saturday, came as rescuers franticly search for life under the rubble of collapsed buildings.

International aid began arriving in the ancient city of Bam on Saturday. An estimated 80 percent of the city, population 80,000, was destroyed in Friday's 6.3 magnitude quake including its hospitals and its main tourist draw, the 2,000-year-old citadel Arg-e-Bam.

The government has asked for international assistance, particularly search and rescue teams. The United States and several European nations have promised aid, which is expected to begin arriving to Bam on Saturday.

As Iran began three days of mourning, tens of thousands of survivors spent Friday night in the streets in bitter cold with temperatures plummeting to below zero degrees Celsius, many of them wearing little more than at the time of the quake.

The historic city was without water, gas or electricity throughout the night. (Survivors try to cope)

On Saturday, rescuers dug with shovels and bare hands to remove bodies and locate possible survivors from the ruins of flattened buildings. Bulldozers worked in some parts of the city.

Bodies, wrapped up in blankets or clothing, were lined up in the streets.

With the city's hospitals destroyed, many of the injured were transported to nearby towns and cities.

Journalist Shrizad Bozorgmehr told CNN that helicopters and C-130 transport planes had been moving thousands of people to neighboring provincial centers such as Kerman and even the capital, Tehran, about 610 miles (975 kilometers) away.

Bozorgmehr said rescue efforts were focusing on two priorities, digging out those trapped and providing temporary shelter and medical assistance to survivors.

Additionally, ruins and rubble brought on by the quake have hampered rescue efforts with little evidence of outside relief reaching the city, he said from Tehran.

Call for help

Blocked roads and rubble have hampered rescue efforts.

Turkey, Russia, Spain, Britain and the United States are among the nations that responded to Iran's call for help.

Turkey plans to send "every possible assistance," including "tents, food, medicine -- whatever is needed," said a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Ankara.

More than 120 Russian emergency and medical officials will head to the disaster scene, along with equipment, a Russian emergency official said.

An aide to Spain's foreign minister said that nation is prepared to send humanitarian aid of various types.

The U.S. government said it is geared up to offer help, with the State Department drawing up a plan.

"We are offering humanitarian assistance," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said aboard Air Force One.

President George W. Bush issued a statement saying that Americans "stand ready to help the people of Iran."

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw spoke to Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi and offered the services of two specialized search-and-rescue teams. Kharrazi welcomed the offer, and arrangements are under way through the Department for International Development, Straw said.

Five Iranian Red Crescent Society emergency relief teams from neighboring provinces have been sent to Bam.

The society has deployed two field hospitals and two helicopters to ferry the severely injured to hospitals as well as provide tents and medical supplies. Local volunteers also are assisting.

"The immediate priority is the search-and-rescue phase -- ensuring that survivors are located, given medical attention and transferred to the hospital," Mostafa Mohaghegh of the Iranian Red Crescent Society said in a statement.

The U.N. disaster management team in Tehran is sending two groups to the affected area "to collect, verify, and compile information on the extent and impact of the earthquake."

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is dispatching a 10-person team to assist in relief coordination. The office said it has made an initial $90,000 grant and is mobilizing 36-40 tons of relief items. These include blankets, kitchen sets, water distribution and purification units, high-energy biscuits and trauma kits.

What a disaster :cry: :cry: :cry:

How can we as sikhs can contribute to help this people???

They be defo in my ardas today

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