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UN emergency teams on ground in earthquake-stricken Iranian region

23 February 2005 - Emergency United Nations teams are in southwest Iran discussing with the country's authorities the need for international assistance after an earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter killed at least 430 people and injured 900 others yesterday.

photo: ISNA

"Our priority at this stage is to find out what the needs are on the ground, particularly regarding women and children," said UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) country representative Kari Egge, who was travelling in the area at the time and went immediately to the site, where she saw a whole village completely wiped out.

"Here in the village of Dohan all the houses have been completely destroyed. It is cold and rainy so supplies such as shelter, food, water and blankets are essential," she added.

A World Health Organization (WHO) field team is also in Zarand, the main town in the area, while technical staff are providing support for disease surveillance teams.

photo: ISNA

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has been informed that weather conditions in the region are difficult, with heavy snowfall resulting in a number of road blockages.

UNICEF is working very closely with the Iranian Red Crescent Society and the Iranian authorities to assess the emergency response. The Red Crescent has already sent supplies of tents, blankets and food, and temporary accommodation is being provided for those in need in Zarand. The Iranian authorities have made no official request for assistance from international organizations.

The agency's team - comprising an emergency coordinator, a child protection officer, a water and sanitation officer and a health officer - made their way to the stricken area from Bam, scene of an earthquake 14 months ago which killed more than 30,000 people.

According to reports, more than 30,000 people are affected and at least three villages have been more than 90 per cent destroyed.

... Payvand News - 2/24/05 ... --

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