Page last updated at 11:18 GMT, Saturday, 1 April 2006 12:18 UK

Rush to aid Iran quake homeless

Khaleq Ali, Iran
Thousands are sleeping out in the open

Iranian authorities are rushing to provide aid for thousands of people left homeless by Friday's earthquakes in western Lorestan province.

More than 70 people were killed and about 1,200 hurt when quakes measuring up to 6.0 struck on Friday morning.

Many people chose to spend the night in the open amid fears of aftershocks.

The interior ministry said 15,000 homes had been affected. More tents and blankets were required but there was no need for foreign rescue workers.

Russia had planned to send a plane with rescuers on Saturday but instead Moscow said it would now simply provide blankets and other humanitarian aid.

US aid

Most of the parks in the provincial capital, Khoramabad, and the city of Boroujerd were filled with people sleeping out.

I lost all my livelihood, I had 140 sheep and cows, now I am left with a destroyed farm and only 50 animals
Hossein Mousivand,

Head of the local Red Crescent, Mohammad Ali Drekavandi, said: "Unfortunately we were not able to furnish all those affected by the quake with the needed tents."

Local officials say more than 300 villagers have been affected, suffering 40%-100% damage.

Bereaved women covered their heads with mud and scratched their cheeks in traditional grieving ceremonies.

The head of Lorestan's Medical University, Qodratollah Sams Khoramabadi, said: "Since most of the area affected is villages with animal stables, we are going to bury the animals in way to halt the spread disease."

Survivor Hossein Mousivand told the AFP news agency: "I lost all my livelihood, I had 140 sheep and cows, now I am left with a destroyed farm and only 50 animals."

21 Feb 2005: 612 die when 6.4 magnitude quake hits Zarand, Kerman province
26 Dec 2003: 26,271 killed when 6.7 magnitude quake devastates Bam
10 May 1997: 7.1 magnitude quake kills more than 1,500 near Afghan border
28 Feb 1997: 5.5 magnitude quake kills about 1,000 in north-western Iran
21 June 1990: About 40,000 killed by 7.7 magnitude quake. Caspian regions of Gilan and Zanjan devastated.
11 June 1981: 6.8 magnitude quake destroys town of Golbaf, killing more than 1,000

The US has set aside political differences with Tehran to offer humanitarian assistance to the victims of the quake.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns made the offer in a phone call to the Iranian ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Friday.

Mr Zarif said the Iranian government had not yet appealed for assistance.

Experts say the earthquake is moderate in scale; in the past such tremors have killed thousands in rural areas of Iran, where houses are built with brick and often poorly constructed.

Iran straddles a major geological fault line and is regularly struck by powerful earthquakes.

More than 26,000 people died when the ancient city of Bam was levelled by an earthquake in December 2003.

In February 2005, more than 600 people died in a 6.4 magnitude quake centred in a remote area near Zarand in Iran's Kerman province.

Another powerful quake hit Kerman in November 2004, killing 400.

video and audio news
See damage caused by the earthquake

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Quake experts urge Tehran move
14 Mar 05 |  Middle East
Southern Iran hit by strong quake
28 Feb 06 |  Middle East
Ten dead in southern Iran quake
28 Nov 05 |  Middle East


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