The story

Till Mayer is a photographer working for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. In 2003 Mayer traveled to Bam, Iran, to chronicle the relief effort following an earthquake that killed at least 26,000 and devastated the historic city. This month, five years on, he returned to Bam to see how the city and its people have changed.

Zarah Tahemasebzadeh sings the last stanza with a clear, high voice. Now the song is over but the children stay quiet. The only sound is a low hum from the engine of the bus taking them to their destination. A loose metal plate rattles as the bus bumps over the asphalt. Tac, tac, tac.

When Zarah looks up, there are tears in her eyes. Everyone knows what the 12-year-old is feeling. Sadness casts a pall over the group -- survivors of the earthquake in the Iranian city of Bam on December 26, 2003, which reduced their neighborhoods to rubble and killed at least 26,000 men, women and children. Read full article »

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