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Iran Quake Death Toll Tops 500  - 2005-02-23


Local officials in Iran say the death toll from Tuesday's powerful earthquake has topped 500 as rescue efforts continue amid freezing rain and aftershocks.

Bad weather has slowed relief operations in tens of devastated villages and some survivors have complained that not enough is being done to help.

Iranian President Mohammed Khatami says the country would accept international aid, but would not ask directly for such assistance.

In a statement (issued Wednesday in Germany), President Bush said the United States is ready to provide assistance. Japan also said it would send blankets, tents and other aid.

Tuesday's 6.4 magnitude quake hit about 200 kilometers north of the ancient city of Bam, where more than 30,000 people died in an earthquake of similar magnitude in December, 2003.

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