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Iran earthquake: Red Cross Red Crescent aid reaches tens of thousands
30 December 2003

Bam: More than 40,000 families, victims of the devastating earthquake that

struck the city of Bam, in south-eastern Iran on December 26, have now

received aid from the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS). So far, the

IRCS, which has solid experience in responding to natural catastrophes, has

distributed more than 90,000 tents, 200,000 blankets, 56,000 pieces of

clothing as well as food, bottled water and other relief goods.

The IRCS also has 7,000 relief workers and medical staff, as well as 2,000

volunteers on the ground, in and around Bam. It has set up seven medical

clinics in Bam as well as several mobile medical units. On the scene in the

first hours following the disaster it continues to participate in search

and rescue operations, which will probably end in the coming hours, as

chances of finding survivors are now very slim. The Iranian Red Crescent

has also treated and flown out more than 1,200 severely injured people to

hospitals in other cities.

"We are now moving out of the immediate emergency phase and are beginning

to look at medium and long-term needs," says Martin Zak, who is

coordinating the Red Cross Red Crescent relief operation in Geneva.

Response to the preliminary appeal launched by the International Federation

of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on 26 December for 15.4 million

Swiss francs (US$ 12.3 million) has been excellent, with coverage now

reaching 50 per cent. "We are very pleased with donor response to this

tragedy, but we need to garner support for the crucial rehabilitation and

recovery phase."

Three planeloads of relief goods (including family tents, plastic sheeting,

blankets, kitchen utensils, water purification tablets, electricity

generators and kerosene heaters) from sister Red Cross and Red Crescent

Societies arrived in Bam on Sunday, and at least nine more planes are due

to arrive over the next two days. In addition, a 150-bed field hospital

with personnel from the German, Finnish and Norwegian Red Cross Societies

is due to arrive in Bam on Tuesday. It is accompanied by an Austrian Red

Cross specialized water unit to service the field hospital. A Japanese Red

Cross medical team is also being deployed in the affected area. More water

emergency response units (ERU) sent by the French, Spanish and Swedish Red

Cross Societies are due in Bam before the end of the week. To date, more

than 20 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from around the world have

contributed money, personnel and relief goods to help earthquake victims

and many more are organising local fundraising campaigns.

A joint British Red Cross/Danish Red Cross logistics ERU team is supporting

Iranian Red Crescent coordination of incoming relief flights and the

International Federation field assessment and coordination team (FACT) is

also helping to review the situation in order to revise the appeal to meet

needs in the recovery and rehabilitation phase. The International Committee

of the Red Cross (ICRC), working in cooperation with the IRCS and the

Federation, has donated relief items and is sending a team of family

tracing specialists, which is expected in Bam on Tuesday. The quake, whose

epicentre was located under the city of Bam, has left more than 20,000

people dead, some 30,000 injured and 70,000 homeless, according to UN

figures.