Rescuers describe Bam chaos

A total lack of coordination among Iranian authorities in the earthquake-ravaged city of Bam prevented rescue teams from saving many people trapped under ruined buildings, Greek rescuers said yesterday. A team of 21 Greek firemen, accompanied by two sniffer dogs, flew to Bam, 1,000 km (621 miles) southwest of Tehran, on December 27 to join in international rescue efforts. But, according to team leader Vassilis Papageorgiou, who held a press conference in Athens yesterday after the team’s return on December 30 – when the search for survivors was called off – a complete lack of organization among Iranian officials and security fears severely hampered rescuers. Papageorgiou said foreign rescuers could only work from 8.30 a.m. to 5 p.m., as there were no security guarantees for nighttime efforts. The foreign teams were finally coordinated by Italian and UN officials. The Greeks pulled out six corpses, while only one foreign team – the Germans – was able to locate a single survivor. At least 30,000 people died after the 6.8-Richter quake struck on December 26.

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