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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Food, Medical Supplies Rushed to Quake Zone

HADJIABAD, Iran -- Trucks carrying food, water and medicine rolled continuously Tuesday into villages devastated by a strong earthquake in eastern Iran as bereaved residents struggled to collect valuables from collapsed houses.


Bulldozers were leveling what remained of buildings destroyed by Saturday's quake that severely damaged 200 villages and left 50,000 people without shelter.


There was no sign of the earlier wailing in the villages where families had spent the past three days digging in the rubble for survivors and burying their dead.


Ambulances with flashing lights were still rushing the injured to hospitals from field clinics set up in villages.


The Interior Ministry official in charge of relief operations revised downward casualty figures in the quake, which measured 7.1 on the Richter scale, saying the latest figures were 1,560 dead and 2,810 injured.


The official said earlier reports of 2,400 dead and 6,000 injured were inaccurate.


Hossein, a 21-year-old English student in the provincial capital, Mashhad, stood with his brother on top of the family's collapsed house in the small saffron-growing village of Abiz.


They were pulling out a large Persian carpet, their family's main possession, from the ruins of their home, now surrounded by khaki tents set up to house the homeless.


Their parents survived, but 25 members of their wider family died. Asked what their future plans were, Hossein said, "If the government wanted to rebuild it [Abiz] it may be possible [that we would stay]. If not, we will go to Mashhad or another place."


Relief efforts were well under way, with the Iranian Red Crescent stocking up food in this village at the center of a remote wheat-growing valley near the Afghan border.


At a corrugated metal warehouse in the middle of Hadjiabad, relief workers set up large piles of flat Iranian bread wrapped in white linen, second-hand clothing, blankets, hundreds of sacks of rice and potatoes and tins of baked beans and tomatoes.


Relief work is led by the Red Crescent, assisted by army units and a powerful Shiite Moslem endowment run by clerics appointed by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.


Officials said enough blood had been donated, but food, tents, medicine and blankets were still needed, Tehran radio said. They said the government had allocated 500 billion rials ($167 million) to rebuild quake-stricken villages.