[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 1 January, 2004, 11:07 GMT
Man 'saved' six days after quake
Iranian rescue workers watch a digger at work in the ruins of a house
Rescue workers watch a digger at work in the ruins of a house
A man is reported to have been rescued from the rubble of the earthquake that devastated the Iranian city of Bam.

Reports say Yadollah Saadat, 26, was trapped for six days under a wardrobe which probably saved his life.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will shortly take part in a memorial service in Bam, where 90% of buildings were destroyed or damaged.

Up to 50,000 may have died and another 100,000 have been left homeless by last Friday's tremor.

Reports have continued to surface of people being found alive in the rubble, defying experts' predictions that no-one could survive so long without water.

The city of Bam with the citadel on the horizon
Your presence in Bam at a time when you were supposed to celebrate New Year at home with your families proves that the jewel of humanity still shines
Iranian FM Kamal Kharrazi to rescue workers

But these reports have not been substantiated, and correspondents say they may be attempts to provide a glimmer of hope amid the devastation and death.

Mr Saadat is said to have been saved by the persistence of his wife, who was knocked unconscious in the quake, but returned to dig for her husband after being released from hospital.

Iranian state media has carried reports of five people being pulled alive from the ruins on Tuesday and another 11 on Wednesday.

State radio also reported that the city has seen its first wedding since the earthquake - a ceremony initially scheduled for the day the quake struck.

The groom's father insisted that the wedding went ahead, saying that was what guests who perished would have wanted, the radio said.

Temporary relief

The US has meanwhile announced a temporary easing of sanctions on Iran to help with the delivery of relief supplies.

The influential former Iranian president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has reacted by saying that Washington had been sending positive signals to Tehran for several months.

Asked whether the two sworn enemies might have something to talk about after years of hostility, Mr Rafsanjani said, in remarks quoted by AFP, "I am not sure but there are signals... We must look at it more closely".

The easing of US sanctions for 90 days will make it easier for American agencies to transfer money to Iran.

Currently, it is against US law to transfer any money to Iran, so even disaster relief payments have to be authorised by the US Treasury.

Aid agencies say disaster victims need at least:
Shelter: 3.5 square metres
Water: 7 litres/day
Food: 2,100 kilocalories/day

US Secretary of State Colin Powell hinted, during an interview with the Washington Post on Tuesday, at a possible warming of relations with Iran.

But US spokesman Trent Duffy told reporters: "We've made clear to the Iranian Government on many occasions our grave concerns regarding its support for terrorism, pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and other of its activities."

Aid workers from the US have already joined the effort to help survivors, in the first official representation by Americans since Washington cut ties with Iran after the 1979 revolution.

An 80-strong US team is setting up a field hospital in the centre of Bam, where only a few buildings have been left standing.

Teams from 40 countries are at work in and around the city where most of the survivors remain close to their shattered homes.

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said in a New Year message that Iran would never forget their efforts.

"Your presence in Bam in such extraordinary circumstances at a time when you were supposed to celebrate at home with your families proves that, despite all the terrorism and violence, the jewel of humanity still shines," he said.

The BBC's Nick Bryant
"The miraculous made real"

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific