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Rescue Workers Frantically Search For Survivors In Iran - 2003-12-27


Iranian officials say the death toll has exceeded five thousand from the massive earthquake that struck Iran early Friday.

Rescue workers are frantically searching for survivors in the rubble of Friday morning's devastating earthquake in southeast Iran.

Iran's state news media say thousands of people were killed and tens of thousands injured following the quake, which struck about 5:30 in the morning local time near the ancient city of Bam, located 1,000 kilometers southeast of the capital, Tehran.

Dozens of aftershocks have been reported, and local authorities say they expect the death toll to climb dramatically.

Iranian authorities say the majority of the ancient city's buildings collapsed during the quake that the U.S. Geological Survey said measured 6.7 on the Richter scale. Among the destroyed structures was a two-thousand year old citadel and the city's two hospitals.

Rescuers, using helicopters and C-130 transport planes, have ferried thousands of injured Iranians to medical facilities located in nearby towns.

Water, electricity and telephone lines were cut as the result of the earthquake. Aid agencies are calling for donations of blood, blankets, food, clothing, tents and medicine.

The United Nations and several countries, including Russia, Germany, Turkey, Spain and France, are offering aid.

Iran's state run news agency (IRNA) says several thousand victims have already been buried. The Iranian government has called for three days of official mourning.

Several major fault lines run through Iran, making the country earthquake prone. More than 220 people were killed in June of 2002 following a quake in northern Iran. In 1990 35,000 people were killed after a devastating earthquake in northwest Iran.

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