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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 January, 2004, 15:18 GMT
Man pulled alive from Iran rubble
The rescued man lies in a field hospital bed, 8 January 2003
The man gave his name as Jalil before slipping into a coma
A man has been pulled alive from rubble in Iran, 13 days after the country's devastating earthquake, medical officials have confirmed.

The 56-year-old man, identified only as Jalil, was found on Wednesday night.

He apparently survived because he was under a wardrobe, which formed an air pocket allowing him to breathe, but doctors say he is seriously ill.

More than 30,000 people were killed in the 26 December earthquake which flattened the ancient city of Bam.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) societies launched an urgent appeal on Thursday for $42m to help an estimated 210,000 people over the next eight months.

The United Nations, which has so far registered pledges of more than $70m, is also appealing for more funds for relief and reconstruction.


IFRC spokesman Denis McLean said the rescued man had been able to speak his name, before becoming unconscious.

"He's still in a coma and he's in a very serious condition indeed," he told the BBC.

Mahdi Shadnoush, a doctor at the Ukrainian field hospital where the man was being treated, said he had had access to an unknown water source, but no food.

"We are constantly checking his condition. We hope to keep him alive but we cannot guarantee it," Dr Shadnoush said.

Aid workers said the man had travelled to Bam for medical treatment and was staying with his sister when the earthquake struck.

People injured in the Bam quake wait for treatment at a field hospital
Aid agencies say disaster victims need at least:
Shelter: 3.5 square metres
Water: 7 litres/day
Food: 2,100 calories/day

Rescue workers were prompted to look for the man after a neighbour realised his body had not yet been recovered, Reuters news agency reported.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran says the rescue is "thoroughly in the realms of the miraculous".

On 3 January, a woman aged 97 was pulled from the rubble alive and unscathed eight days after the quake.

Experts say it is very unusual for anyone to survive even beyond three days without food or water in earthquake rubble.

In previous cases, reports of miraculous rescues several days after an earthquake have often proven to be false.


Since the earthquake, survivors have been sleeping in the open in freezing temperatures. With few sanitation facilities, the risk of disease is high.

With all the city's schools and hospitals destroyed, an enormous challenge lies ahead, including caring for nearly 2,000 children who have been orphaned or separated from their families as a result of the earthquake.

The Iranian Government has pledged to rebuild Bam, which had 90% of its buildings destroyed.

The huge death toll has been put down to the fact that many of the city's building were made of mud-brick, which tends to disintegrate, allowing less chance of air pockets forming.

The quake struck before dawn, when most people were asleep in their homes.

More than 40 countries sent aid to Iran soon after the quake, but aid agencies have warned that more help is needed for longer-term reconstruction.

The BBC's Bridget Kendall
"To keep going this long after an earthquake is almost impossible"

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