ANKARA, 28 Feb 2005 (IRIN) - More than 600 people are now known to have been killed in last week's devastating earthquake in Iran's southeastern Kerman province, an official from the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) told IRIN on Monday.
"Based on our latest figures from the field, the death toll now stands at 612, with 1,411 people reported injured," Mehrdad Eshragi, deputy director-general of the international affairs department at the IRCS, said from the Iranian capital, Tehran. "The rescue operation finished on Saturday, but we are continuing our relief efforts."
Tuesday's quake, measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale, hit Zarand city and some 103 surrounding villages, Eshragi explained, estimating the total number of people affected at 93,350 people or some 24,000 families.
In terms of relief efforts, IRCS has distributed 870 relief items to those affected, including food rations for 35,000 of the worst hit, as well as 27,000 tents, which were distributed amongst beneficiaries in the field as of Sunday.
"The target group is 7,000 families," he explained, noting that psycho-social support and medical teams were on the ground. "A total of 111 mt of relief assistance has been delivered thus far," he said, including three cargo planes of assistance.
He added that temporary shelter had been provided to 12,500 people left homeless by the quake in schools and other public buildings in Zarand.
According to an AFP report, 8,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in Zarand district and at least two villages were razed by the force of the quake.
Although Iran has not appealed for international assistance, Eshragi noted that they were, however, open to receiving voluntary contributions from international organisations, particular those which could be used to replenish the IRCS's stocks.
"Recently we have had heavy snow in the north and the quake in Kerman, so keeping our supply stocks replenished remains a source of concern," he said.
Iran sits on a major fault line, making earthquakes a common occurrence. According to the official news agency IRNA, the Zarand area has been hit by some 49 aftershocks since Tuesday.
On 26 December 2003, an earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale struck the ancient city of Bam in Kerman province, killing more than 31,000 people.
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