Bam earthquake death toll could reach 30,000

30 December 2003
Aid workers in the southeastern city of Bam said on 29 December that the death toll in the earthquake disaster could reach 30,000. The prediction came as officials in Tehran confirmed that some 25,000 people had been buried since the earthquake stuck the city early on 26 December. 'I believe the [death] toll will reach 30,000,' said a local official in the Kerman province. 'Some outlying villages are even more badly damaged than Bam. They are 100 per cent destroyed.' About 1,000 people have been rescued since the initial tremors, but rescue operations have been hampered due to numerous aftershocks.

Iran has been inundated with offers of assistance from the international community. At present there are about 350 international specialists working in the rescue operation and aid has arrived from a large number of countries. UK International Development Secretary Hilary Benn said: 'Providing shelter for those facing the freezing desert night is urgent and critical - Many local people are having to rely on open fires, with temperatures falling as low as minus 15 degrees Celsius.' However, Iranian officials have said that the aid effort is not enough because of the scale of the destruction. 'If we have not cleared the area by the end of the week there will be a threat of epidemics,' said a local rescue worker.

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