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In ruin
The magnitude of the disaster in Bam is simply astounding

By H. Utanzad
December 27, 2003
The Iranian

The scenes of the devastation are absolutely astonishing.  The historic city of Bam lies in ruin. Judging by the widespread destruction evident in the footage of the affected area, practically the entire city has been demolished.

No one can be certain about the exact number of the casualties, but so far, around 7,000 of the injured have been air lifted to various hospitals in the surrounding areas not affected by the quake. Countless are dead, with unknown numbers remaining trapped under the rubble. Thousands are dazed and homeless. Entire families have been decimated.

Although, there was an immediate effort to mobilize the full spectrum of the resources needed to provide relief for the quake victims, the structural impediments are simply overwhelming. 

One can't be clear about whether or not the roads leading to the city have been completely cleared. There was an instant rush by the grieving relatives from the surrounding areas toward Bam, thus contributing to congestion on the road which remains the lifelines for the victims.

Since early Friday, choppers and airplanes have been flying non-stop to and fro the Bam Airport, which was cleared quickly with expanded capabilities to directly receive the much needed international relief supplies, but I am not convinced the Iranian air force possesses the needed capabilities to deliver all the heavy machinery and the needed engineering equipment used in the search for those still trapped.  Thus, the roads remain the vital supply route and a crucial nexus in the relief operations.

The German and Italian rescue teams with trained dogs have been active since early this morning. Numerous medical teams have been assembled and either dispatched, or are in the process of being sent, to the affected area.

About 30 centers have been established in Tehran to collect material support for the victims. Numerous other centers have been operational all over Iran. There is no indication that the vast network of mosques has so far been mobilized to participate in the relief efforts.

The country is in dire need of blood -- especially the negative blood type. Due to the successful completion of the recent measles inoculation campaign affecting 34 million between the ages of 5-25, the donor pool has been reduced. Additionally, Tehran alone possesses the ability to process no more than a thousand donors per day. 

Bam itself has been divided into 3 districts comprised of 21 distinct sectors to more effectively organize the relief operations. But make no mistakes. The magnitude of this disaster is simply astounding.  The inevitable confusion and disorganization is bound to have hampered the operations.  The victims need immediate supplies of tents, blankets, water, canned food and warm clothing.

I do not know whether expatriate "freedom warriors" are still busy plotting liberation for the long suffering people of Iran in that ancient American bastion of freedom -- the casinos of Las Vegas -- but the victims here need all the support anyone is able to provide. 

Don't let the traditional paralyzing Iranian outlook disturb the aid effort. All forms of your contribution is needed here. Understand that inefficiency and corruption are the inevitable part of all global relief efforts -- more or less. Do what you can -- every little bit helps.

Send financial support through whatever institution you feel comfortable with [Earthquake relief fund]. The Account set aside in the Bank-e Melli for monetary donations in foreign currency is 200237.

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By H. Utanzad

Brooding Persian



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