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Iran: President, Supreme Leader Visit Earthquake Zone

Bam, Iran; 29 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Iranian leaders, including President Mohammad Khatami (pictured) and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, today visited the southeastern city of Bam, which was devastated in a massive earthquake on 26 December. Khatami and several of his government ministers flew in to inspect damage and rescue work. He arrived shortly after Khamenei, Iran's spiritual leader, who pledged to rebuild the city, saying he shares the sorrow at the loss of what he called "our children."

"I extend my profound condolences, with all my heart, to all the families, all the sisters and brothers, who have lost their loved ones in this event. I also extend my condolences to the Iranian nation," Khamenei said.

Aid efforts are now turning to caring for thousands of survivors as hopes fade of finding more people alive in the rubble. More than 15,000 bodies have been buried so far.