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Five More Survivors Reportedly Found in Bam - 2003-12-31


Iranian newspapers say five more people have been found alive in the city of Bam, where the death toll from last Friday's earthquake has climbed to at least 30,000.

The papers say among those pulled from the rubble Tuesday were a baby and a 12-year-old girl.

Despite the reports, many international rescue teams have given up hope of finding more survivors and are returning home.

Still coming are the relief workers, including an 80-person American team of surgeons, nurses and medics who arrived in Bam late Tuesday and set up a field hospital.

The medical workers are the first official U.S. representatives to set foot in Iran since Washington cut ties with Tehran more than 20 years ago (after the 1979 Islamic revolution).

Iranian President Mohammed Khatami has welcomed the aid, but says it will not alter U.S.-Iranian relations. He said "humanitarian aid should not be linked to political problems."

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell raised the possibility of renewed U.S.-Iranian dialogue. But Mr. Powell stressed that the United States is still concerned about many other issues, including Iran's support for terrorism.

Thousands of people in Bam have been sleeping outdoors -- often in near-freezing temperatures -- since Friday's pre-dawn quake destroyed some 80 percent of the city's homes.

Officials say workers have recovered and buried more than 30,000 bodies in the past five days, and they fear the final death toll could go much higher.

Information for this report is provided by Reuters and AFP.

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