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Iran quake toll now put at 41,000

The quake toll could reach 45,000
The quake toll could reach 45,000

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TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iranian officials say the death toll in last month's Iranian earthquake in the city of Bam has risen to 41,000 and the final figure could hit 45,000, according to Iran's state-run media.

A close aide to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reported the increased death toll from the December 26 quake, which was previously estimated to be around 30,000.

Khamenei was visiting the southeastern city of Bam Friday to supervise relief operations.

As well as the dead and a further 15,000 injured, the quake also leveled most of the ancient city, including the Arg-e-Bam, or Citadel of Bam, the world's largest mud-brick fortress.

Earlier this week the last person rescued from the rubble in Bam died from respiratory problems.

The 56-year-old man was found alive but in poor health last Thursday, 13 days after being buried by the devastating 6.6 magnitude quake that struck the southeastern town on December 26.

The man was in a coma when he was found by search teams, and was taken to the International Federation Center -- a coalition of humanitarian relief agencies -- for treatment. He died on Sunday.

A 97-year-old woman pulled from the rubble eight days after the quake survived but Iranian authorities last week ended general search-and-rescue operations. (Full story)

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