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Tuesday, 25 June, 2002, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Iran 'to accept' US quake aid
Recovery work in Changooreh village
Some villages have been destroyed by the quake
President Mohammad Khatami has said Iran will accept a United States offer of aid for victims of Saturday's powerful earthquake, which killed about 230 people.

Map of Iran showing Qazvin and Tehran

Mr Khatami told Reuters news agency he would accept the offer of humanitarian assistance made by US President George W Bush.

When asked if this included US Government aid he said: "Yes, help is help."

Mr Bush has branded Iran as part of an "axis of evil" for allegedly developing weapons of mass destruction, but said he was saddened by the earthquake in the country's north-west.

More than 1,000 people were injured in the disaster and thousands have been left homeless, according to Iranian state radio.

Mr Khatami is currently visiting the worst hit areas to see the extent of the damage.

Hopes fading

Rescue workers say they have given up hope of finding more survivors.

The area has been hit by more tremors, including one of Tuesday that measured four on the Richter scale.

The chair I was sitting on started to whirl around
Mary Partovi, Tehran

Saturday's earthquake, which devastated about 20 and villages in Qazvin province, had a magnitude of six.

Iranian officials have said that about 12,000 are homeless, but the United Nations refugee agency said that as many as 80,000 people need tents. Many have been sleeping in the open in near-freezing temperatures.

Survivors have complained that help has been too slow in coming and Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mussavi-Lari had stones thrown at his convoy when he visited the area on Sunday.

President's visit

The state news agency, Irna, said that President Khatami was assessing the extent of the damage for himself and seeing the relief efforts under way.

He was visiting Abdarreh village about 100 kilometres (62 miles) from Qazvin city.

Irna says about 27 villagers there were killed and 14 injured. The village was completely destroyed.

The president is expected to address local people.

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 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 also sent men, machinery and water trucks.

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

Every single building was damaged in the village of Changooreh.

The quake was felt across a wide area, including the provinces of Gilan, Tehran, Kurdestan, Zanjan and Hamedan, the official Irna news agency reported.

Three days of mourning are being observed in Iran.

See also:

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