Earthquake: MSF rushes emergency relief teams and materials to Iran
27 December 2003
The needs in this town of 110,000 inhabitants are considerable: the city is almost completely destroyed, as are the two hospitals, and many bodies are being extracted from the ruins.
Paris/Brussels/Barcelona - To meet the enormous needs caused by the earthquake in Iran, Médecins Sans Frontières is sending teams to reinforce those already present in the field. A team of 4 people (medical and logistical) will arrive in Bam tomorrow where two doctors are already working. Teams are also departing from Brussels (three nephrologists, one medical coordinator, one logistician) and Madrid (one doctor, one logistician) and are expected to arrive in the region tomorrow.
Ten tons of additional supplies (medicines, emergency materials, water treatment and 5000 jerrycans) are leaving by plane today from the logistics base in Bordeaux. Medical stocks in Tehran (40m2 of medical and emergency supplies) and Baghdad (surgical material, 6000 hygiene kits and 19,000 blankets) are already on their way to the region of Bam. Another 26,000 blankets leave by airfreight tomorrow morning from Dubai.
Yesterday, an MSF team from Zahedan (300 km east of Bam) composed of 2 doctors, a nurse, an administrator and driver - expatriate and Iranian - carried out a rapid evaluation in the affected region together with the Iranian Red Crescent. The team is on the spot with first aid material.
The needs in this town of 110,000 inhabitants are considerable: the city is almost completely destroyed, as are the two hospitals, and many bodies are being extracted from the ruins. Two medical structures set up after the quake are overwhelmed and are without water, electricity, and lack medicines. At the airport of Bam, a field hospital has been set up for the evacuation of wounded to Kerman, Ispashan, Zahedan and Bandar Abbas.
The first MSF team in Bam has started supporting the two medical structures. The three nephrologists, who will focus on the treatment of "crush syndrome" (see note below), are expected to start working at the regional hospital of Kerman upon arrival. Other teams will travel to neighbouring villages to give aid to victims in the surrounding district of 250,000 inhabitants. The number of victims is presently impossible to evaluate, but could surpass 100,000. Shelter, blankets and potable water are indispensable for their survival in a region where temperatures can fall below freezing at night.
MSF has worked in Iran since 1995 in the regions of Mashaad and Zahedan with Afghan refugees. MSF also intervened during the earthquake which hit Iran in 1990.
What is Crush Syndrome? Experience treating earthquake victims shows that kidney failure is a major cause of death among those who survive their initial injuries. In an affliction known as "crush syndrome," muscle tissue damaged after severe internal injury can release massive quantities of toxins into the bloodstream and lead to kidney failure. Left untreated, crush syndrome can be fatal.