UNHCR rushes relief supplies to quake-hit Iran

Eight truckloads of tents, blankets and mattresses have arrived in Kerman, near the earthquake-stricken city of Bam. UNHCR hopes these supplies will help the affected population to survive winter nights in the devastated area.

UNHCR trucks in Kermanshah, before heading towards Bam with tents, blankets and mattresses.   © UNHCR Kermanshah

TEHRAN, Iran, Dec 29 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency has rushed eight truckloads of relief items to help earthquake victims in the south-eastern Iranian city of Bam survive winter nights in the devastated area.

On Monday afternoon, the UNHCR convoy arrived in Kerman, 150 km west of Bam, with 1,000 tents, 10,000 blankets and 3,000 mattresses. The authorities had requested that the supplies be offloaded in Kerman because roads leading into Bam were heavily congested by people leaving and others rushing in to check on relatives.

The relief items were handed over to the government's Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants (BAFIA), and will likely be distributed to earthquake survivors by the Iranian Red Crescent Society.

According to a UN assessment team, up to 90 percent of all buildings in Bam have been damaged by the earthquake, which struck early Friday and measured 6.6 on the Richter scale. UNHCR hopes that the supplies will provide immediate relief to the affected population that has to cope with sub-zero temperatures at night.

The relief items, estimated at $140,000, were sent on Sunday morning from the refugee agency's warehouse in Kermanshah, some 1,500 km away in western Iran, not far from the Iraq border. UNHCR had stockpiled the supplies in case of an exodus into Iran following the Iraq conflict this spring.