International and Iranian rescue teams are continuing rescue operations in Iran's southeast city of Bam on Tuesday, four days after a devastating earthquake ruined the ancient Silk Road city and killed at least 25,000 people.
In the rubble of the shattered city of 80,000 to 100,000 people, Iranian and international rescuers are hacking through debris for any sign of survivors and those still buried under the rubble, using sniffer dogs and equipment.
However, with the elapse of time, the hope of finding survivors from the earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale is running thinner and thinner.
In an interview with Xinhua, Edward. G. Pearn, an officer with the United Nations On-Site Office for Coordination Center at the site of rescue in Bam, said that since Monday, Iranian rescue workers have managed to find and pull alive three persons from under the rubble.
Apart from Iranians, 1,700 rescue, support and medical personnel with 57 international rescue teams from over 30 countries and regions have also been working in Bam, looking for survivors, digging out dead bodies and offering medical treatment for the injured.
None of the international rescue teams has found any survivor.
The 38-member Chinese International Rescue Team, which was among the first rushing to Bam, has so far found and dug out more than 20 dead bodies from the rubble.
The Chinese rescue team, headed by Xu Deshi, chief of the Department of Emergency and Rescue for Earthquakes and Other Natural Disasters of the National Earthquake Administration, consists of 10 medical workers and 28 rescuers, backed by advanced search and rescue equipment and four sniffer dogs. They are carrying with them nine tons of search and rescue supplies, three tons of rescue equipment, and tons logistic supplies.
On the main highway route from the capital city of Tehran to Bam, convoys of heavy trucks carrying relief supplies, including food, blankets and equipment, are continuing to rush to the ruined city.
Bam used to be a popular tourist spot 1,300 km southeast of Tehran. Here had been the home to a 2,500-year-old brick-built citadel. But now, about 70 percent of the city's buildings were leveled.
Four days after the deadly jolt, public order has been obviously restored, with police and army soldiers directing the traffic and maintaining order. Local residents no longer appear to be panic or desperate. Many have been settled in makeshift tents set up everywhere in the open area in the city.
Electricity supply has been restored, with street lamps re-lit in certain sections of the city, but no shops are open.
(Xinhua News Agency December 31, 2003)