Survivors found six days after quake

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The Independent Online

A man was rescued from the rubble of a building in Bam yesterday, six days after the earthquake which devastated the Iranian city.

Yadollah Saadat, 27, survived after apparently being trapped behind a fallen wardrobe, which protected him from falling masonry. He was able to mumble his name to Red Crescent rescue workers, who were astonished to find him alive near the bodies of six relatives. Mr Saadat's wife had returned from hospital to pick through the rubble of their home in search of his body.

Many rescue teams have already given up the search for survivors, convinced that the scale of the damage, the time elapsed since the earthquake and the cold weather rules out the possibility of finding anyone alive. The British team returned home on Tuesday after failing to find any survivors.

The Iranian Red Crescent Society has been begging them to stay, claiming that survivors can be found up to 10 days later. Jalil Tabatabaei, a co-ordinator of the international rescue teams for the Red Crescent, said: "I want international rescue teams to remain in Bam for 10 days after the earthquake. I have been in every major quake for the past 24 years and I know there is still hope."

He also said that if teams decided to leave, he would appreciate the use of their specialised equipment to continue rescue efforts.

As the international search and rescue teams leave the city an increasing number of stories have begun to circulate of survivors being pulled from collapsed buildings. Although some of the cases, such as the man found yesterday, have been confirmed, UN officials say reports of apparently miraculous rescues should be treated with caution.

Up to 50,000 people died in the earthquake, which struck Bam at 5.30am on Boxing Day. Nearly 30,000 bodies have already been buried in Bam's cemetery but rubble still covers large parts of the city.

State radio said yesterday that a nine-year-old girl had been found alive. A 40-year-old man was also reported to have been found and 16 survivors were said to have been rescued on Tuesday and Wednesday. One of them was said to be an 80-year-old deaf and blind woman who is thought to have been in a cellar when the quake struck; another was a six-year-old girl who was sheltered by a cupboard. A baby girl was rescued on Monday from the arms of her dead mother.

Officials say that some rumours may have been spread by hopeful people who badly wanted to believe them.