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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 December, 2003, 11:02 GMT
Scots rescuers reach Iran
Scene of earthquake in Bam, Iran
Scots volunteers are heading to the disaster zone
Scottish experts have arrived in Iran to help search for survivors after thousands of people died in a powerful earthquake.

Seven workers from the International Rescue Corps, based in Grangemouth, travelled to the city of Bam.

Estimates of the death toll range from 10,000 to 25,000 after a major quake hit the historic city on Friday.

The volunteers are experienced in dealing with the aftermath of catastrophes.

The earthquake hit Bam, 630 miles south-east of the capital Tehran, at 0158 GMT and Iranian state television reported that 60% of the houses in Bam had been destroyed.

Iran suffers frequent earthquakes, with small tremors happening almost daily - and 35,000 dying in one 1990 quake.

Hopefully we'll be able to get to the disaster zone and set up our search and rescue equipment
Rab Barrie
International Rescue Corps
The International Rescue Corps workers believe their skills and specialist equipment will help the Iranian authorities deal with the quake.

The team arrived at Kerman Airport, close to the disaster scene, on Saturday morning.

National officer Martha Anderson said: "They will set up a base camp and try to establish which areas have been searched and which areas need searched.

"They know what they are doing and will split up the areas to try to recover survivors."

Speaking before the team set off, Scottish group organiser Rab Barrie said the team was anxious to help the rescue operation as quickly as possible.

"We use specialised gear for searching under collapsed structures and so on," he told BBC Radio Scotland.

'Dispatching aircraft'

"Each earthquake is different from the last one, so we have to take them as they come."

The Department for International Development (DfiD) said it was sending out rescue workers from the UK to help the Iranian authorities.

International Development Secretary Hilary Benn said: "We will be this evening (Friday) dispatching an aircraft from Stansted airport with search and rescue teams on board.

"We stand ready to give further assistance to meet the needs that have been identified as quickly as we can, but do it in a way that helps the Iranian authorities in dealing with this emergency they have got on their hand."

'Pooled together'

Rescue group Rapid-UK said it had between 16 and 20 expert rescuers and search dogs ready to travel to Iran if required.

Spokeswoman Cerian Henshaw said: "It would naturally be better to go as part of an official British response because then the full strength of communication and resources are pooled together."

International Rescue Corps volunteers travelled to India in January 2001 in the wake of an earthquake in the state of Gujarat.

They also offered assistance after the terrorists attacks on the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001.

The British Red Cross has launched an emergency appeal following the earthquake.

Anyone wanting to donate to the appeal can call 0207 245 1000.

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