Iran's supreme leader has vowed to restore the ruined city of Bam to its former glory, as the search for survivors of Friday's terrible earthquake winds down.
Ayatollah Ali Khameni went to the ancient fortress city in southeastern Iran Monday for a first-hand look at the devastation. He told survivors he shares their sorrow over the loss of their loved ones, and promised to rebuild Bam more solidly than before.
A powerful quake flattened the two-thousand-year-old mud fortress Friday. Iranian officials say the bodies of 25-thousand victims have been recovered in three days.
More than two-thousand-people were pulled out alive Saturday and Sunday. Rescuers hold out little hope of finding more survivors.
In a sign that major search efforts are ending, one international search team (from Germany) was preparing to return home.
Heavy equipment rolled into the area Monday to begin clearing the huge amount of debris. Some 70 percent of the buildings in the area are said to have been flattened.
Authorities say they are concerned about the health of the many homeless people in the region. The international aid effort for the homeless and the injured continues, bringing in medicines, food, clothes and other badly needed necessities.
Many residents have been huddling in tents and in front of fires made from cardboard to stay warm at night, when temperatures dip to near freezing.