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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 January, 2004, 18:36 GMT
Memorial for Iran quake victims
Crying woman in Bam cemetery
Up to 50,000 may have died in the disaster
A memorial service for victims of the Iranian earthquake has been held in Bam where tens of thousands of people died.

Former Iranian President Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani came to the central mosque to give his condolences to the people.

Many mourners wept in the huge half-built building that was left standing after the disaster struck last Friday.

Reports continue to surface of people being found alive in the rubble - among the latest, a young man who survived six days trapped under a wardrobe.

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

The magnitude of the disaster caused the whole world to cry. We will never forget the name of Bam
Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Former Iranian president

There are unconfirmed reports from Iranian television that a pregnant woman and another man were found on Thursday and taken to hospital.

Hours earlier, 26-year-old Yadollah Saadat, was rescued - saved by a wardrobe that had fallen on him protecting him from falling debris.

He was taken to a field hospital in Bam and treated for dehydration and a broken hip.

His wife, Fatima, who for the last six days believed she had become a widow, told reporters she could not express her happiness.

Iranian rescue workers watch a digger at work in the ruins of a house where a Danish team thought they'd heard signs of life
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

The discovery is all the more extraordinary because most of the international search and rescue teams have already left the country.

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

Medical workers reported more good news amid the gloom as three boys were delivered in a French field hospital and two girls delivered in a Ukrainian field hospital.

Up to 50,000 may have died in the quake and another 100,000 have been left homeless. The tremor destroyed or damaged 90% of buildings in the historic mud-brick-built city of Bam.

'Symbol of survival'

Mr Rafsanjani came to central Djame mosque for a memorial service for victims of the earthquake.

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

The BBC's Angus Crawford, in Bam, says he spoke poetically of the palm trees that line the streets of Bam standing witness to the destruction around them.

"The magnitude of the disaster caused the whole world to cry. We will never forget the name of Bam," he added.

Hundreds of worshippers came to the half built mosque. Many including Red Crescent workers and soldiers, were in tears.

Its two minarets remain undamaged, while around it stretch acres of rubble and twisted metal. It is a potent symbol of survival amid the devastation, our correspondent adds.

Temporary relief

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

Mr Rafsanjani, has reacted by saying that Washington had been sending positive signals to Tehran for several months.

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 the US still had grave concerns regarding Iran's "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.

The BBC's Nick Bryant
"Finding this survivor was the miraculous made real"

In pictures: Symbols of hope
01 Jan 04  |  Photo Gallery

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