Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Mother Nature Takes Out More Muslims

A powerful earthquake toppled mud-built homes and flattened villages in central Iran on Tuesday, killing at least 270 people and injuring 950, officials and state-run television said. A senior official said the death toll could top 350. TV footage showed residents frantically digging through piles of debris looking for loved ones following the 6.4-magnitude earthquake, which struck at 5:55 a.m. While homes made of mud collapsed, buildings of cement appeared not to sustain heavy damage. Survivors pleaded for help finding the buried: "What a catastrophe. Please help us," one said. Rain was hampering rescue efforts. The quake's epicenter was on the outskirts of Zarand, a town of about 15,000 people located 35 miles northwest of Kerman, the capital of Kerman province, said the seismological unit of Tehran University's Geophysics Institute. The mountainous area is in the same province but northwest of Bam, where a quake killed 26,000 people in 2003. "All hospitals in Zarand are filled to capacity with the injured. Hospitals in the town cannot receive any more of the injured,"