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HRH attends a British Red Cross seminar on the relief effort for the Bam earthquake

6th February 2004

The Prince of Wales described the plight of the survivors of the Iranian earthquake as “utterly heart-rending” as he called for more help for the devastated city of Bam.

More than 42,000 people perished and more than 30,000 were injured in the quake which struck in the early hours of Boxing Day.

His Royal Highness was given an update on aid missions by experts from the British Red Cross and the Iranian Red Crescent. After watching a presentation showing rubble-strewn scenes from the disaster zone, The Prince said he was proud of the work that had been done by charities to ease the suffering. In his speech he said: “I‘ve been deeply moved by this morning‘s presentation.”

“I suspect all of us will have found it utterly heart-rending, but it makes me particularly proud to be part of a global humanitarian movement that responded with such speed and professionalism to the devastation wrought upon the people of Bam,” His Royal Highness said. Calling for continued help for the city, The Prince told delegates: “I encourage you to urge others to sustain the crucial support. “We must all accept that this will be a long, painful journey requiring help from all over the world to achieve the rebuilding of people‘s homes, the reconstruction of the historic citadel and the aqueduct system on which so many people's lives depend.”

His Royal Highness added that the shock waves of the disaster reverberated beyond the short attention span of the global media. The Prince heard from British Red Cross worker, Richard North, who was one of a small emergency team from the UK who travelled to Iran in the immediate aftermath of the quake. Mr North described how the city appeared when he first arrived: “There was confusion and chaotic scenes. Traditionally, a lot of buildings had heavy roofs and when the earthquake hit they just collapsed.”

His Royal Highness was also told how two field hospitals were set up from scratch and green tents were handed out to survivors as essential temporary homes. Sir Nicholas Young said that prefabricated buildings were being brought in to replace the camping facilities and added that warehouse stocks urgently needed to be rebuilt, saying: “We have to be ready for the next one which could be today.”

Mostafa Mohaghegh, who co-ordinated the Iranian Red Cross‘s (IRC) rescue operation, said the 6.7 magnitude quake was one of the worst disasters Iran had ever encountered and predicted that the relief work would continue for about another two years.

More than 12,000 IRC staff have been working in the country as part of the mission, and more than 100,000 tents and nearly 600,000 blankets have been given out to affected families.