The death toll continues to rise in southeastern Iran, following a powerful earthquake, Tuesday, that damaged or destroyed dozens of villages. More than 500 people were killed as the result of the temblor. Iranian authorities now say they will accept offers of assistance to help the thousands of residents displaced by the earthquake.

Hundreds of rescue workers, soldiers and residents are continuing to dig through mud and debris, searching for anyone who might still be alive following the devastating earthquake.

An estimated 8,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in the area closest to the epicenter, near the southeastern Iranian town, Zarand. Thousands of residents were made homeless and are sleeping in tents. The weather is cold and freezing rain has been persistent.

Relief agencies estimate that more than 9,000 tents, 60,000 blankets and large quantities of basic food supplies have been distributed. And, although the Iranian government says it will not make a direct plea for international assistance, it says it will accept help if offered.