Re: Just a thought for Iran
The New York Times
The historic city of Bam was heavily damaged when an earthquake struck southeast Iran.
Iran Quake Toll Rises to 25,000; Injured Fill Hospitals, and Streets
By NAZILA FATHI
Published: December 28, 2003
ERMAN, Iran, Dec. 27 — As rescue workers raced to the ancient city of Bam, officials there raised the death toll from its 12-second earthquake on Friday to 25,000, and worried that it could go much higher.
The interior minister, Abdolvahed Moussavi Lari, said on state television from Bam: "The city is ruined. More than 70 percent of it is destroyed."
Tens of thousands of the injured crowded field hospitals or lay helplessly in the streets. Survivors and rescuers dug frantically to uncover those still trapped.
In Bam, Reuters reported, one man, Taher, cried over the body of his teenage son, calling out, "Wake up, wake up!" Another parent, Fatemeh, 35, mourned her two children, saying, "I am burying myself in this grave."
Aftershocks jolted the area, shaking down the already crumbled low-rise dwellings of clay tile, brick and concrete block.
Dozens of international relief flights and supply shipments sped on their way, transporting everything from skilled rescue workers to water purification tablets. The United States said it was sending tons of medical supplies in a military airlift, as well as rescue squads and medical teams.
Most rescue workers were flying here to Kerman, to make their way by land to Bam, 120 miles to the southeast.
Iradj Sharifi, rector of the faculty of medicine in Kerman, said that in the pre-dawn earthquake, "Five thousand people were killed on the spot and there are 20,000 people under the rubble."
Brigadier Mohammadi, commander of the army in southeastern Iran, told state television, "We need help — otherwise we will be pulling corpses, not the injured, out of the rubble."
There were grim but uncertain predictions that the death toll — in a 2,000-year-old city of 80,000 people — might keep growing.
"As more bodies are pulled out, we fear that the death toll may reach as high as 40,000," said Akbar Alavi, the governor of Kerman, the provincial capital, according to The Associated Press. "An unbelievable human disaster has occurred."
The earthquake, which Iranian agencies measured at 6.3 and American agencies at 6.7, rocked Bam, 610 miles southeast of the capital, Tehran, at 5:28 a.m. Friday.
Government spokesmen said that foreign aid workers would not need entry visas and that aid would be welcome from everywhere but Israel. In a televised address, President Mohammad Khatami urged on rescue efforts, thanked the nations that were sending aid and said he was preparing to leave for Bam.
Volunteer rescue workers from around the country hurried into the city, some equipped with shovels, some joining survivors in clawing through the rubble barehanded. About 7,000 police officers were sent to Bam to help with the aid operation, Reuters said.
International rescue teams began arriving with sniffer dogs and detection equipment. One dog team dug out 20 survivors, the official Islamic Republic News Agency said.
The use of dogs, which are considered unclean by most Muslims, was a sticking point in rescue efforts in 1990, after the most deadly earthquake ever to strike Iran. It killed about 50,000 people.
On Saturday, state television showed film of bloodied victims being loaded onto planes. A provincial official, Saeed Iranmanesh, told The Associated Press that more than 9,000 of the injured were sent to hospitals throughout the country.
The bodies of the dead lined streets. The International Red Crescent advised people in the city to wear gloves and face masks because of fears of an epidemic, Reuters reported.
There were burials, but they were swift and brutal. Broad trenches were dug with earthmoving equipment to accommodate hundreds of bodies at a time, The Associated Press reported. State television showed some bodies being stowed in the trunks of cars. Many more bodies were collected at cemeteries, the agency reported.
At another cemetery, The Associated Press said, workers prepared a mass grave as a cleric and 10 people prayed over a second.
Muhammad Karimi brought the bodies of his wife and 4-year-old daughter for burial, the news agency said. "This is the apocalypse," he said. "There is nothing but devastation and debris."
At a news conference, the news agency reported, Mr. Lari, the interior minister, said: "Bam has turned into a wasteland. Even if a few buildings are standing, you cannot trust to live in them."v