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13,000 confirmed dead in quake: Iran radio

December 28, 2003 17:10 IST

A total of 13,000 people have so far been confirmed dead in the massive earthquake, which devastated the Bam region of southeastern Iran, state radio said on Sunday.

Of these, 2,000 died of their injuries in hospitals around the region, the radio said.

Earlier provincial governor Mohammad Ali Karimi told the official IRNA news agency that as many as 10,000 people had been killed in the town of Bam alone.

"It's very difficult to quantify but the number of victims is very high," Karimi said.

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Interior ministry officials had advanced a preliminary death toll of 20,000 although they warned the final count could be much higher.

Meanwhile, in Geneva, the United Nations said the search for survivors in the earthquake will end today, adding that international rescue teams were no longer needed.

The decision was taken after a meeting in Bam with local authorities, the UN said.

Meanwhile, some 1,000 people were pulled out of the ruins. In the first official indication of the progress of the rescue operation, the agency had earlier announced that 200 had been rescued on Saturday.

"Those rescued were located thanks to the sniffer dogs and hi-tech ultrasound equipment of both Iranian and foreign emergency teams," IRNA said.urvivors.


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