IRAN: Counting the Dead

"The earth vomited up the bones of the dead and a village with its inhabitants was suspended between heaven and earth during half a day; then it was swallowed up." So wrote the Arab historian Jellal As-Soyuti about an earthquake in medieval Persia. Last week his apocalyptic description again became reality for the people of the lush Qir valley 560 miles south of Teheran.

At 5:38 one morning, 58 villages were destroyed and more than 5,000 of their inhabitants were killed by a massive earthquake. In addition, 2,000 were seriously injured and 20,000...

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