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Quake in Iran Kills 20, 000 - 2003-12-27


Rescue workers in the Iranian city of Bam are continuing to search through rubble for victims of Friday's powerful earthquake that officials say killed about 20,000 people.

Iran's Interior Ministry said today (Saturday) that an additional 30,000 people were injured by the quake which flattened the ancient city before dawn, while most residents were asleep.

Foreign rescue teams began descending on the stricken area, bringing sniffer dogs to look for victims among the devastation.

Despite their efforts, freezing weather overnight has dimmed the hope that many people will be found alive. Rescuers have also been hampered by the loss of power, water and communication lines to the city.

Journalists in Bam have reported grim scenes of trucks loaded with corpses carrying bodies to mass graves.

Dozens of military planes have been mobilized to evacuate the injured to medical facilities in other Iranian cities, as many of the area's hospitals were destroyed or badly damaged in the quake.

The United States, the United Nations and many other nations and humanitarian organizations are responding to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's urgent appeal for assistance. Iranian officials say they need medical supplies, blankets, tents, clothes, food, power generators and water-purification systems.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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