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Rescue Teams Continue to Dig in Iran Earthquake Rubble - 2002-06-24


The victims of Saturday's deadly earthquake in Iran are receiving offers of assistance from around the world, as rescue teams continue digging through rubble, and emergency crews struggle to care for the injured. At least 220 people have been killed.

Dozens of aftershocks are being reported in northwestern Iran, where hundreds have been killed and thousands injured following Saturday's earthquake, which registered 6.3 on the Richter scale.

A United Nations team says an estimated 2,000-4,000 people were injured and 12,000 people were left homeless. A higher estimate from the Red Crescent says as many as 25,000 people are homeless.

The quake struck at about 7:30 a.m. Saturday in Iran's Qazvin province, about 200 kilometers west of the capital, Tehran.

The death toll is expected to rise, as police and soldiers sift through the rubble of homes and buildings made of brick, stone or mud. The Red Crescent says as many as 5,000 homes were destroyed. Most of those killed were women, children and the elderly.

On Sunday, dozens of survivors threw stones at a government minister's convoy complaining rescue teams came too late to save villagers buried in the rubble.

Rescue teams are struggling to care for the injured. Germany has offered close to a 50,000 in assistance. The U.N. Development Program is providing $50,000 in relief aid. U.S. President George W. Bush has offered humanitarian aid. On Monday, state radio said Iran's foreign ministry welcomed the president's offer.

The Iranian government has declared three days of mourning in the quake-struck region, and has established a bank account for public donations.

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