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Sunday, 23 June, 2002, 21:33 GMT 22:33 UK
Iranians angry at 'slow' quake help
Mourners with a shrouded body of an earthquake victim
The death toll - feared to be 500 - has fallen to 230
Villagers in north-west Iran have thrown stones at the car of a cabinet minister touring areas devastated by Saturday's earthquake.

Interior Minister Abdolvahed Musavi-Lari (c) visits a destroyed village
The interior minister was harangued
Residents of Changooreh, which was at the epicentre of the tremor and was almost totally destroyed, said help had come too late.

About 120 of about 230 people reported to have been killed in the earthquake - measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale - came from Changooreh in Qazvin province, 225 kilometres (140 miles) west of the capital Tehran.

Some 1,500 people were injured and 25,000 left homeless amid the rubble of their mud and brick huts in villages now hosting scores of funerals.

Survivors' fury

Reports say that in most of the 70 villages destroyed or badly damaged by the earthquake, rescue work has been completed.


The chair I was sitting on started to whirl around

Mary Partovi, Tehran


The Iranian Government was keen to be seen to be taking action and Interior Minister Abdolvahed Musavi-Lari went to the worst-hit areas.

But about 60 survivors - still waiting for food, medicine and tents - threw stones at his car, accusing the authorities of doing nothing.

One man said: "My child died and the local people helped me to bring him out of the rubble. Only local people are helping."

Funerals

The Associated Press news agency said that 20 funerals were held on Sunday morning at a cemetery overlooking the small village of Abdareh.

Men, women and children wailed as they placed the dead in rows of graves dug by bulldozers.

"There is nothing left to live for," said Majid Torabi, 16, who buried both of his parents there.

Map of Iran showing Qazvin and Tehran
"One moment they were alive and with me, and the next moment the ground shook and everything got dark. I don't know what to do anymore."

The Red Crescent has sent relief workers, sniffer dogs, food, more than 1,000 tents, 2,500 blankets and mobile kitchens to the stricken area.

The Iranian army has supplied men, machinery and water trucks.

Attempts are being made to prevent the spread of disease, including the spraying of villages with disinfectant and the provision of tetanus jabs.

Days of mourning

There have been more than 20 aftershocks since the earthquake struck and seismologists have warned of the risk of more tremors over the next few weeks.

Major earthquakes in Iran
1997: 1,000 killed in Ardabil province; a further 1,500 killed in Khorasan three months later
1990: 35,000 killed in Gilan province
1981: 1,000 killed in Kerman province
1963: 12,200 killed in Qazvin, hit again in 2002
The quake was felt across a wide area including the provinces of Gilan, Tehran, Kurdestan, Zanjan and Hamedan, the official Irna news agency reported.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has declared three days of mourning in the provinces.

The same region was hit by an even more deadly earthquake 40 years ago.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jim Muir
"The authorities were keen to make a show of concern"
See also:

22 Jun 02 | Middle East
22 Jun 02 | In Depth
08 May 99 | Middle East
08 Feb 02 | Country profiles
23 Jun 02 | Middle East
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