Devastating Earthquake 2003

In the early hours of 26 December 2003, a massive 6.6 magnitude earthquake struck the Kerman Province located in the south-east of Iran, killing more than 2 600 000 people and injuring a further 30 000, many of whom were buried in the rubble as they slept. The country suffers frequent earthquakes, but this one - with its epicentre near the ancient city of Bam - has been described as one of the deadliest and most tragic to have struck Iran in the past 30 years. So devastating was the quake that about 70% of the houses in the city of Bam were completely destroyed, displacing thousands and leaving them homeless.

Gift of the Givers Response:

Within 24 hours of this catastrophic earthquake, we had delivered and begun distributing R500 000 worth of relief aid to destitute victims, in the form of tents, blankets, food and bottled water. Representing Gift of the Givers was a South African Iranian, Seyyed Hosseini, who arranged these essential items, which were delivered to the devastated city of Bam on six sponsored charter flights.

This initial intervention was quickly followed by our deployment of a search and rescue team on 28 December, together with the provision of a further 178 000 water purification tablets (capable of purifying some 4 million litres of water), 2 200 warm blankets, woollen hats and scarves, collectively valued at R700 000. By 01 January, we had a further team in place and on 05 January an additional R300 000 was made available, establishing a Tent City specifically for those orphaned and widowed by the quake. We also undertook to establish a formal orphanage upon the commencement of reconstruction efforts.

This was our second intervention in Iran and followed a 1997 earthquake, after which Gift of the Givers rebuilt a school in the wake of the quake's destruction.

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