Soviet Rescue Team Pulls Boy Alive from Quake Rubble
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ Soviet rescuers pulled a 9-year-old boy alive from the rubble of his home nearly a week after his family’s residence was flattened by an earthquake, the official news media said Thursday.
The Islamic Republic News Agency said Morteza Amirpour was found late Wednesday next to the bodies of family members in the ruins of Rahmatabad, 125 miles northwest of Tehran. He was freed 162 hours after the quake, IRNA said.
The boy, who was in a coma, was taken to a provincial hospital for treatment, the agency said. It provided no further details.
A week after the temblor, casualty figures varied: officials of the Red Crescent, Iran’s equivalent of the Red Cross, say they counted 40,000 dead and 60,000 injured. Government officials say 50,000 Iranians died, 200,000 were injured and 500,000 were left homeless.
The earthquake, centered near the Caspian Sea about 125 miles northwest of Tehran, destroyed 1,755 schools and caused an estimated $625 million in damage, IRNA said.
Also Thursday, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations thanked the 86 nations that contributed aid and issued an appeal for international assistance to rebuild the devastated regions.
″There is an urgent and continued need for international cooperation, not only to alleviate present suffering but also to make the areas as safe as possible in the future,″ Kamal Kharrazi told the General Assembly.
To date, Kharrazi said, 171 planeloads of supplies have reached the Iranian capital of Tehran. In addition, about 100 teams have been set up to fight disease and to disinfect disaster areas, he said.
Fifteen aftershocks Wednesday and Thursday jolted the northwestern provinces of Gilan and Zanjan, which bore the brunt of the June 21 earthquake, the agency said.
Reporting from the devastated township of Rudbar, the agency said one grieving woman who lost her husband and five children in the quake was refusing to eat.
″How can I eat while I myself wrapped the bodies of my beloved children in shrouds and buried them?″ it quoted the woman, Goncheh Ibrahimi, as saying.
The June 21 quake, which registered 7.3 to 7.7 on the Richter Scale, according to Western and Iranian accounts, is the deadliest since an estimated 200,000 people died in a 1978 earthquake in China.
There have been more than 400 aftershocks in the Iranian fault zone the last week. The Geophysics Center at Tehran University said the strongest aftershock measured 4.8.
But IRNA quoted an unidentified senior official at the Tehran center as saying the tectonic fault that caused the deadly quake was ″gradually stabilizing.″
That was welcome news for the thousands of Iranian and foreign rescue workers who have been clawing through the rubble of 342 flattened towns and villages in the rugged region.
The aftershocks have blocked roads, halting truck convoys carrying tents, blankets, medicine and food into the stricken provinces.
IRNA said one of the latest tremors caused landslides that blocked a key road between Rasht on the Caspian Sea and Rudbar to the southwest for the second time in a week.
Relief officials said that with hope running out of finding survivors trapped in the rubble, the relief operation is concentrating more on taking care of the living.
IRNA said Mohammad Hassan Eftekhari, a member of the 270-seat Majlis, or parliament, who died in Wednesday’s crash of a relief helicopter was given a hero’s burial in his hometown of Fouman in northern Iran.
Four of the other 14 relief workers aboard the U.S.-built Chinook transport were critically injured when it crashed in bad weather in the mountainous Kelishom region in the southern sector of the quake zone.