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Iran quake death toll tops 602 as int'l aid arrives
Updated: 2005-02-26 14:40

A total of 602 people died in the earthquake that hit southeastern Iran this week and the number of injured reached 991, the governor of stricken Kerman province said on state television.

"We almost consider these figures definitive as the rescue work has ended." Mohammad Ali Karimi said.

The 6.4 magnitude quake struck before dawn on Tuesday, levelling mud-brick houses in dozens of villages and affecting an estimated 30,000 people in the Zarand region north of the provincial capital of Kerman.

Meanwhile, three airplanes carrying some 70 tonnes of international aid from Japan, the United Arab Emirates and Algeria landed in Kerman on Friday, state news agency IRNA reported.

They brought tents, blankets, food and clothing to the devastated area.

Karimi said people in Zarand and its adjacent villages have been terrified by some 50 aftershocks to hit the area since Tuesday.

Red Crescent executive Farshi Tofighi said on television that "we are now focused on relief operations, with teams of social workers who have become well experienced in Bam to give social support to the most vulnerable groups."

In December 2003, more than 30,000 people were killed in the ancient city of Bam, further south of Kerman.

"We have distributed toys and stationery to the children and provided the victims' with shelter, basic foodstuffs, clothing and hygienic needs," Tofighi said.

Rescue efforts were initially hampered by the severe weather conditions and blocked roads in the stricken areas, leading to angry protests from villagers who did not receive emergency aid.

Some 8,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in the Zarand district and at least two villages were razed by the force of the quake.

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