05 January 2004

Methodist appeal for victims of Iranian earthquake

The Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) is appealing for funds to support victims of the earthquake that hit Southern Iran on Boxing Day. The earthquake, which registered 6.3 on the Richter Scale, destroyed almost all of the historic city of Bam. 

MRDF Supporter Relations Co-ordinator, Kevin Fray said: 'MRDF will be responding through our partners on the ground who know what the situation demands. They can access most of the supplies needed regionally, but desperately need money to be raised so that they can be effective.'

The earthquake has been devastating, with the death toll already reaching 30,000 and a further 80,000 people have been left homeless. The earthquake was so catastrophic because the majority of buildings in Bam were un-reinforced mud brick homes which, when they collapsed, left very few air spaces for people to survive in. The destruction of the two hospitals in Bam hinders relief efforts but also highlights a lack of structural reinforcement of even the most vital buildings in an earthquake-prone area. 

'We should be careful when we talk about natural disasters,' continued Kevin Fray. 'Today, the technology exists to minimise the suffering caused from naturally occurring events like earthquakes. Just before Christmas, California experienced an earthquake that was, in fact, slightly larger than the one in Bam and whilst two people were killed, it caused relatively limited structural damage. The contrast between the effects of the earthquake in Bam and in California shows that the impact which poverty has on the scale of a disaster is disproportionately large.'

At this time in Bam, search and rescue efforts are ending and the emphasis is now being placed on increasing assistance to the survivors. After the trauma of the earthquake, many of the people of Bam lack access to decent shelter, food and clean water and are having to endure temperatures of below freezing. MRDF's partners are providing rapid assistance in the form of large weather-proof tents, blankets, water tanks, medicines and food.

Donations sent to MRDF will be channelled immediately to where they are most needed. If you wish to support MRDF's Iran appeal, please send donations to: MRDF at 25 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5JR or call the MRDF Hotline on 0207 22 44 814. Cheques should be made payable to MRDF, with a covering note stating that it is for the IRAN EMERGENCY APPEAL.

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