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Reconstruction of Iranian City Hit by Earthquake to Begin - 2004-02-04


A senior official of the Iranian Red Crescent says work to reconstruct the Iranian city of Bam can begin, now that the 40 day mourning period for victims of the December 26 earthquake is over. The official is in Geneva to discuss relief and reconstruction with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The Iranian government estimates more than 41,000 people were killed and 75,000 made homeless by the earthquake, which destroyed about 85 percent of the historic city of Bam.

The head of the Iranian Red Crescent International Department, Mostafa Mohaghegh, says the serious task of rebuilding the city and bringing life back to normal can begin now that the mourning period is over.

He says many people would like to see the historic city rebuilt, as it was at the height of its ancient glory. But, he says, he believes that would not be advisable, because the area is very vulnerable to earthquakes.

"There is a serious concern and intention to have the standardization of construction, including the location of the new city in a place so that we are preventing new losses and damages of future disasters," he said. "But, overall, the country, and particularly the region, is vulnerable to earthquake, and that is a must and a necessity for us to take all available means and measures to prevent such losses in the future."

Earlier this week, the United Nations Development Program issued a report, which finds developing countries could prevent much of the death and destruction caused by natural disasters, if they made better preparations to reduce the dangers. The report urges countries, such as Iran, to rebuild cities struck by natural hazards in ways that would protect people from future disasters.

Mr. Mohaghegh says a joint assessment team of the International Federation and the Iranian Red Crescent has just issued its recommendations on future rehabilitation projects. He says these include reinforcing an existing field hospital, increasing water and sanitation services and building an orthopedic center.

He says the Iranian Red Crescent also is stepping up relief distributions to some 210,000 people in Bam and the surrounding region. He says these people probably will require assistance for the next year or two.

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