Iranian authorities are struggling to reach victims of a large earthquake which hit the country's south-eastern Kerman province on Wednesday.
At least 420 people were killed and 900 injured in the 6.4 magnitude quake, and heavy rain and snow is hampering rescue efforts.
Iran has rejected US and UN offers of aid for the quake, which was less severe than the deadly Bam earthquake in 2003, which left around 30,000 people dead.
Could the international community do more to help victims of the earthquake?
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinions received:
From BBCPersian.com: Proper building construction and educating people, as well as better organisation by the municipilities could reduce the number of deaths. I have been in touch with my relatives in Zarand and they told me that people are petrified of insecurity and theft so no one is travelling any where any more. People feel stressed out and anxious all the time.
Alireza Omrani, Tehran, Iran
From BBCPersian.com: Yet again we can be joyous while reading about the aid received for the quake victims. We never see beyond the images of a disaster (similar to our attitudes towards road accidents). Instead of looking for ways to limit the dangers and do something about the our building standards, when are we going to accept that we live in a land of earthquakes?
Ali, Tehran, Iran
I think the UN and the charity organisations should consider allocating money to re-build proper houses in the most vulnerable areas to withstand quakes of up to 6.5 Richter scale. Otherwise we will continue to witness such disasters year after year if not sooner and our help will be too late.
Fari Amoli, Redditch, UK
I am amazed and grateful at all the outpourings of sympathy. It is nice to see humanity is still around. I, too, wonder what would happen if an earthquake hit a more densely populated part of the country. When it is known that the seismic activity is frequent and at times large, why are building designs and plans not taking this into factor? I often wonder why the third world has to remain so, why does the individual matter? The country has enough resource for all its citizens, use it to make their lives comfortable.
Maryam, London, UK
It is widely accepted in the scientific community that Tehran is overdue for an earthquake. In a city of more than 13 million people and with the infrastructure currently in place, this will result in an unparalleled humanitarian disaster. And yet, with all this knowledge, and with the ample warnings received in the form of the earthquakes we have witnessed in the country recently, progress seems to be limited. Iran, with the support of advanced nations, needs to deal with this problem at once to minimise, if not avert, such an impending disaster.
S Hossein, Cambridge, UK
If we are politicising this, I think it is appalling that Iran has rejected the aid efforts of the US and the UN. This is not the time for this!
Chris, London, UK
My father worked in the power station in Zarand as a consultant engineer in the mid 70s. I visited him during my summer vacations. I remember the dry desert and mountains in Zarand and the wonderful hospitable people there. I feel extremely sad to think of the people that are affected by this natural disaster. I hope the earthquake has not damaged the power station which would lead to more suffering in this winter.
Ratna Sengupta, USA
An earthquake is not a political event. Iran should accept aid graciously and use it wisely.
Matt, Texas, US
Words cannot express how saddened I am to hear of this devastating news today. We have all been trying to sort out the previous devastation in Bam and trying to mend our damaged hearts and get over the loss of all those innocent lives, and now suddenly this new devastation occurs. In a time when people should be celebrating for the New Year instead they will be grieving for their loved ones and the death of innocent people. Even though many countries and people from all over the world helped for Bam not all the money was given by the Islamic republic of Iran to its people. I hope for the sake of the people of Iran that this time the money raised will reach the people and help them in this unfortunate crisis.
I am sadden to watch the pain people of Zarand have gone through. I also hope the people at the top in Iran put more time and money in implementing programs that reduces the risks resulting from such earthquakes.
Zach, Sydney, Australia
Iran has survived many catastrophes such as wars and natural disasters throughout her history and I am sure, Iran will come out of this one and will survive and stand tall with help of her people and all those who have got to know Iranians and Iran. Nothing is more beautiful than seeing people from different countries and cultures showing so much love for one another.
Behnam, Toronto, Canada
The politics of our countries foreign policies should not affect the people of the United States' resolve to help those in need. The Iranian people suffered a catastrophe. Iran, and the US should stop butting heads and do what is necessary to help the people involved, not their own political agendas.
Todd Whelan, Philadelphia, PA, USA
My heart goes out to all Iranians in these times of need. I have to however ask one vital question. Are their nuclear facilities reinforced for this obvious volatile land?
Paul Girling, Toronto, Canada
My brothers live in Tehran, and seeing these frequent earthquakes I fear the most about my family. I strongly insist the Iranian government to be prepared all times for such earthquakes cause it might happen again.
Mohammad Ali, Karach, Pakistan
From BBCPersian.com: It is not the quake that has brought on tragedy but the poor construction of the buildings which are well below legal standards. Some of the villages were warned after the previous earthquake in the same spot in late 1970s but no one took notice and we see the consequences today.
Morteza, Zarand, Iran
From BBCPersian.com: So far dozens of injured have been submitted to the Afzalipour hospital in Kerman and they are being treated for minor cuts to major head injuries. I was informed that two people died immediately as they were transferred to the hospital. Surgeries have been done with great difficulty and all medical staff are on call.
Afshin Sarafi Nejad, Kerman, Iran
From BBCPersian.com:We ask all international organisations to help with the injured and the homeless and to directly control how their aid is being used here.
Hamid Reza, Tehran, Iran
From BBCPersian.com: Thank goodness that this time round authorities were quick to respond!
Mehdi, Tehran, Iran
From BBCPersian.com: How long before we see much greater catastrophe in Iran and in the bigger, crowded cities like Tehran? We should be alert and forward looking.
Shahab, San Francisco, California, USA
I think the Iranian government didn't learn its lesson from Bam's earthquake. It is still not prepared for emergencies and not doing enough for the people in the disaster.
Mahnaz Shariat, Rugby, UK
I mourn any loss of life brought about by natural disaster, but the blame lies with the Iranian government. Iran's number one public works project should be quakeproofing the infrastructure in highly active seismic zones so that a moderate earthquake of this magnitude does not become a natural disaster. Governments have a duty to their people to mitigate the effects of natural occurrences so that they do not become disasters except in the extreme. A 6.4 magnitude quake epicentred under any major metropolitan area of California or Japan would result in minor damage and most likely no loss of life.
Gregory, Los Angeles, California
Today is a sad day for Iranians all over the world. My love and support goes out to the people of my country.
Amin Massoudi, Moncton, Canada
Leave it to those like Simon Mellon, Preston, UK to politicise a humanitarian tragedy. The issue is about the victims of a natural disaster, to whom all my prayers and support go. And if the response effort differs from that of the tsunami, might it be because the scale of disaster is different?
With Iran being on the US "axis of evil" and all the talk of the nuclear developments, I wonder just how strong the outpouring of aid will be for victims of this natural disaster. Doubtless it won't be a patch on the tsunami efforts.
Simon Mellon, Preston, UK
I am very saddened about losing my people in the earthquake. I am angry that that we shouldn't lose so many people in each natural disasters due to an irresponsible government which doesn't care about securing the houses and cities prone to earthquakes. Iran has the wealth but unfortunately it is spent on everyone but the Iranian people!
Asal Irani, USA
Regardless of whatever else is going on in Iran, it is time to put all differences and ideologies aside and offer assistance. A truly ethical leader would do so. Will a moral president do so? This would be a good time to put the US's best foot forward.
Doug Fisher, Asheville, USA
Sometimes we get caught up in the heat of "battle" and forget that we are dealing with individual human beings. And for anyone who knows as I do, the Iranian people by their culture and nature, are universally a wonderfully kind and hospitable people who are deserving of our compassion, care, and support. I hope that the politics of hate and division preached at the top in Iran won't obstruct or delay the delivery of much needed aid for these suffering people as did happen, initially at least, in Bam.
John, Bloomfield, NJ, USA
My heart is with those people who are really in pain and need. I wished I was there and could do something for them. What will happened to the victims this time? I hope the international community can help them, because the Tehran regime has not done that much for Bam's victims.
Diako, London, UK
Now let's see the world also mobilise and go help. These are people also, it doesn't matter if Iran is fighting with the USA or is not a hot tourism area, life is life no matter where it is. The people need the help now, I am appalled how it is not even talked about much on the news channels.
Perhaps the Iranian Government should invest in the country's infra-structure and help communities build solid earthquake-proof buildings, instead of apparently developing nuclear weapons. This isn't the first earthquake in the region and it won't be the last, yet no effort to install building guidelines has been implemented. That should tell you how out of touch the ruling faction is with its people. I certainly hope that the Iranians let people in to help.
Dalo, Coral Gables, Florida, US
Words cannot express how saddened I am to hear of this devastating news today. The people of Iran have long been striving to achieve a sense of freedom and well-being. I'm sure at this difficult time unity will prevail, as this remains the only remedy for the people of Iran. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones. I only hope that international support is not delayed once again by the Iranian government and that help would be given to those who need it.
I hope and pray that everyone in the world can help Iran. Help the people of Iran and worry about the nuclear talks after.
Donald Lawson, Woodbridge, VA
I only hope that any money given to help those in need of help, will actually receive the money. There are multiple stories floating around that the aid given for the Bam Relief Efforts was not appropriately distributed to the areas of disaster as it should have been. We can only hope to see better handling of money when it comes to International crises.
Siavash, Austin, Texas, U.S.A
We the people of India are saddened by the disaster. We are with the affected people of Iran and ready to support if any aid is needed there.
Rajiv Kapoor, Varanasi, India
How about good will from the world aided by intense press coverage? Bam was all but ignored so here's another chance to show that the world cares about all its people.
Amira, Manhattan, USA
I pray for all the victims of this latest catastrophe. Hopefully, the Iranian government actually allows aid to enter to help the victims.
Kevin, Chicago, US
As a regional search and rescue team in Yalova, after the 1999 earthquake we made ready a team in case of any possibility of a request from the Turkish government. Up until now there has been no request from the Iranian government. We wish the bests to all victims of the earthquake and we will pray for them.
Erdogan Oztekin, Turkey, Yalova
I heard today about the earthquake. My friend's friend is in Iran. We don't have any news about him now . My heart goes out to all the people who lost their loved ones. I pray to God to give patience to the people of Iran to bear this natural disaster. I plan to help in every way possible to aid the victims of the earthquake.
Abdullah Amjad, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
Aside from all of the negative pressure being put on Iran by the Bush administration, Iran seems to have had a bad stroke of luck with earthquakes. Nonetheless they are a strong a religious people and they will pull through this tragedy. They will be in our thoughts and prayers.
The number of earthquakes that have hit my country, Iran, over the last year have been countless. Although these natural disasters also happen in other countries, its long term effect is much more in Iran because the Iranian government stops international support reaching the people as they did in the Bam earthquake last year. I yearn to be with my people, to be able to help them. I beg those that are inside and do have the opportunity to do all they can for the victims of this terrible earthquake.
A Tarighi, Cambridge, UK
My heart goes out for all the people affected by this devastative earthquake. We should set up a line of donation to help those poor people.
J. S, Boston, USA
It made me so sad. I've heard one village has been destroyed completely. It's cold and raining over there and I'm worried about my people as Islamic regime of Iran does not care about its people unfortunately. Many people in Bam are still living in camps. What a shame? God be with them.
Mehrdad, Larnaca, Cyprus
As a Californian, I can certainly sympathise with the people of Iran in this tragic earthquake. They've barely had time to recover from the Bam quake, and now this one. Let us hope the international community can respond in the same generous manner as they did after the tsunamis.
John, Los Angeles, USA
I am saddened by the recent earthquake in Iran. Having survived many large earthquakes, I can only imagine the hurt of the families in Iran. My heart goes out to you. I pray that your lives will be blessed by God and you will not give up hope in this hard time.
Lowell, Enumclaw, USA
My daughter flew out to Iran two days ago I am naturally concerned, however we have learned she is OK, my concern now is for the poor villagers whose lives have been devastated. The Iranian people do not deserve this, they are a people who, in my experience, have a natural abhorrence of violence yet are so frequently victims. About 31,000 killed in Bam in December 2003 and almost a million in the Iran-Iraq war in 1988.
David Edmunds, London UK
This is so tragic, a country torn apart by war now battered by natural disaster. I pray for the victims and their families
Eddie Dinnage, Nottingham, UK
I am in Tehran in the northern part of the country, but I have a lot of friends who are in the Kerman province and I have not got word from them yet. I'm quite concerned....but there is not much we can do for now but pray that everyone is alright. Iran is set up in the worst area as far as seismologists are concerned as the country is comprised of three plates that are rubbing against each other....no wonder there are "at least one minor earth quake in Iran daily" I don't find that strange in the least.
Hassan Amidhozour, Iran
It is very sad about this, I have family in Iran some in Kerman and in Lahranso. I hope they are all OK.
I just heard about the earthquake and am extremely saddened by it. My fiancee is in Esfahan right now and I am unable to make contact with her and I don't even know if she is OK right now. She was supposed to call me hours ago and I still have no word of her whereabouts and safety. God be with the Iranians at this time of need.
David Hamid, Walnut Creek, California, USA
When I heard there had been another earthquake in the Kerman my immediate worries were for the children looked after by the Iranian charity Bacheh-hayeh Ma and it's UK sister charity "Action for Orphans" which were set up in response to the Bam earthquake. I contacted Action for Orphans and was told that the children were safe and well although they had been upset and shaken by the today's earthquake. My heart goes out to the people of Kerman and to their family and friends awaiting news.
Jack Rose, Bristol, UK
My heart cries to see these people in so much pain. We need to spend just a very small percentage of the money that my government spends to kill people in order to help these people. Then maybe we wouldn't need to spend the money to kill people.
Lanny Ptacek, Walla Walla, Washington, USA
I was in Kerman and Bam two months ago. I was shocked with the damage done by the earthquake in Bam in 2003. I met great people in Iran. Yesterday I got an email from my friend Rafi who told me he worked in the Kerman province. Today, I don't know whether he is alive.
In April of 2004 I went to Bam on a humanitarian relief trip to set up trauma relief programs. I am about to leave again in a month to go back to continue the work. I will go to those areas that were hit today to do the same.
Katherine Bramhall, Bam, Iran
I was sleeping at the time and I woke up seeing everything falling around me. Thanks Allah who saved me and my family.
Aman Khojeh, Bam, Iran
I'm a university student in Kerman when the quake happened. I was asleep in a dormitory in the university campus. Everything was shaking, we woke up and about five minutes later the quake has gone. We ran out of the building, the air was cold, but nothing was destroyed. It was my first experience of a quake. It was terrible!
Rashid Javaheri, Kerman, Iran
Dahoo, one of the villages, is destroyed completely and 90% of Hootkan and Kolkoye structure are also destroyed.
Nimole, Kerman, Iran
I lost many members of my family last year in Bam earthquake, I have just heard the earthquake today has claimed the lives of two of my friends. Our government does not care about the lives of Iranians.
Arash Peiman, Tehran
I'm just crying now because of this bad earthquake in my country. Please pray for my people who were injured. Thanks, a friend from Iran
Has any organisations or countries offered help by donating money to the Iranians to help the people over there? Are people going to raise money for helping the people hurt by the earthquake?
I was in Kerman at the time of the earthquake. It was about 11 seconds long - I was awake saying my prayers.
Masoud Amirian, Kerman, Iran