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Search for Iran Quake Survivors Continues

More bodies were pulled from mud and rubble Wednesday, as residents and rescuers in Iran continued their frantic search for survivors of the powerful quake.

Working in a steady downfall of freezing rain, rescue teams used dogs and heavy machinery, while residents scraped through debris with their bare hands to recover the dead and injured.

Entire villages were flattened by the earthquake that struck early Tuesday morning with a magnitude of 6.4 on the Richter scale. And although relief agencies have done their best to supply homeless residents with tents and blankets, many survivors complained not enough is being done to help.

Grief-stricken residents, in one devastated village, blocked roads to protest the delay in receiving basic supplies such as tents and blankets.

Wednesday, Iranian President Mohammed Khatami said while Iran would not ask for international help, he said such help would be accepted if offered. Wednesday, the Japanese government announced it would send blankets, tents and other aid.

The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, urged rescuers to speed up their efforts. Cold weather, rain, blocked roads and treacherous mountain terrain are hampering efforts to save lives and provide assistance to survivors.

About 30,000 people in as many as 50 villages have been affected by the temblor that has produced dozens of aftershocks, some reaching as high as 4.6. Many of the villages, made mostly of mud, were completely destroyed.

Wednesday, many residents gathered near local morgues and broke into tears as lists of the dead were being posted.

Iran is no stranger to devastating earthquakes. On average, at least one slight earthquake strikes the country every day. In December 2003, as many as 30,000 residents were killed in an earthquake centered not far from where the latest temblor hit. Aid agencies and rescuers have said the experience of that quake resulted in better preparedness for the latest disaster. Still many residents, made homeless by the latest quake are facing a second night of cold temperatures, freezing rain and little or no shelter.