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Iran Earthquake Death Toll Hits 28 Thousand - 2003-12-30


Iran's state radio is reporting that the confirmed death toll from Friday's devastating earthquake in the southeastern city of Bam has risen to at least 28,000.

Some Iranian government officials have also estimated that the number of dead could go as high as 50,000.

However, as hope of finding more survivors fades, relief efforts are increasingly focusing on the tens of thousands of people left homeless.

Aid has flowed into Iran from U.N. agencies and many countries around the world, including the United States which has had no formal relations with Iran for more than two decades.

But, aid workers are urgently appealing for additional humanitarian assistance. They say many people still lack shelter and other necessities, such as drinking water and medicine.

Members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council met in Saudi Arabia Monday and are reported to have agreed to send 400 million dollars worth of aid to Iran.

The Gulf Cooperation Council is made up of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates.

The United States has sent more than 80 disaster experts to Iran and committed some 70 tons of relief supplies. Washington also says it is prepared to provide additional help.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has pledged that Bam will be rebuilt within two years. He urged Iranians to talk of living and trying to reconstruct the quake-struck region.

Information for this report is provided by AFP and Reuters.

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