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Death Toll Rises to More than 400 Following Iran Earthquake


Freezing rain continues to plague southeastern Iran, where many tired and cold residents are huddling near bonfires and sleeping in tents or underneath blankets, following the powerful earthquake Tuesday.

There are complaints of little food and a lack of shelter. Even so, the Iranian government has continued to refuse any international assistance to help deal with the aftermath of the quake that measured 6.4 on the Richter scale.

Rescue and relief efforts are being hampered by the cold, wet weather, as workers attempt to navigate through difficult terrain in the mountainous region of Iran. Officials say they expect the death toll to rise, as workers make their way to the most isolated villages in the area.

Early Wednesday, Iranian troops reported pulled two young women alive from the rubble of an isolated mountain village, near the epicenter of the quake.

In the meantime, residents continue to dig through mud and rubble with their bare hands and shovels, searching for loved ones, or trying to find what remains of their belongings.

Others crowded around local morgues and broke into tears, as the names of the dead were posted on walls.

Dozens of villages, with homes made mostly of mud, were either heavily damaged or completely destroyed by the temblor, which struck not far from where a massive earthquake killed as many as 30,000 people in December, 2003.

The International Red Crescent has told international relief agencies that Iran does not need outside help and will not issue a plea for aid.

In the meantime, the affected area has experienced dozens of jolting aftershocks, some with a magnitude as high as 4.6.

Iran is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world, sitting along several major seismic fault lines. On average, at least one slight earthquake occurs every day in Iran.

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