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Aftershocks jolt Iran's Qeshm island, death toll rises to 10

Qeshm, Hormuzgan Prov., Nov 28, IRNA-The sixth aftershock shook this southern Iranian island in the Persian Gulf on Monday as death toll from a strong earthquake a day before rose to 10.

The new death toll came after the bodies of two more victims were found in the village of Ziranag which is one of the 12 worst-hit villages in the quake, Qeshm Governor Heydar Alishvandi said.

He said search was going on for several people who were reported to be missing. As many as 80 people were also wounded.

Alishvandi said some of the injured were transferred by helicopter to the provincial capital of Bandar Abbas on the coast, including several who were in critical condition.

The governor stated that as many as 2,000 people in rural regions needed accommodation, half of whom had been given temporary housing.

He cited tents, blankets, canned food and drinking water as the most needed items.

Alishvandi said the first truck of public aid donations, including tents, blankets, canned food and water tanks were sent to the affected regions Monday morning.

Meanwhile, the head of the Interior Ministry's Natural Disasters Headquarters, Abbas Jazayeri, said that the situation on the Qeshm island was under control.

He said relief workers had completed the shipment of urgent needs including foodstuff, tents and blankets to all affected villages.

But residents at the village of Gavarzin complained that relief operations were slow.

Speaking to IRNA, they said they had not received aid almost a day after the quake.

"Houses in the village of Gavarzin have been destroyed 100 percent and we have now no refuge to take," Jassem Chabok said, adding all their furniture had been buried under rubble.

A series of aftershocks have hit the island since it was first rocked by a magnitude-5.9 earthquake early Sunday afternoon.

The seismological bases of Tehran University registered a quake measuring 3.8 on the Richter scale at 09:10 hours (0440 GMT) on Monday.

The earthquake knocked down power in rural areas, sinking them into darkness. Local officials were struggling Monday to restore electricity.

Flights from and into the International Qeshm Airport were resumed Monday morning. The airport received minor damage in the quake.

The tremor also damaged hospitals on the island, including one which was reported to have stopped providing medical service.

The worst hit villages sustained between 40 and 80 percent damage.

A team of experts from the governorate of the Hormuzgan province arrived in the affected areas Monday to assess damage to infrastructure.

The head of the team, Alireza Safa, estimated that between 50 and 70 percent of the industrial structure in the 12 worst-hit villages might have been destroyed.

Qeshm, a 1,500-square-kilometer island off the coast southwest of Bandar Abbas and 1,500 kilometers south of Tehran, has a population of more than 100,000.

Iranians are still haunted by harrowing images of the world's worst disaster in December 2003, in which more than 31,000 people were killed in the ancient city of Bam.

The country is prone to earthquakes and tremors of lower magnitude are usual occurrences.

... Payvand News - 11/28/05 ... --

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