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These collapsed immediately burying tens of thousands of people under tons of rubble.) Bam is located in South-eastern corner Kerman province.
Local people have told reporters that on the afternoon of the 25th of December there were some light tremors in the area but this would not be unusual for the region.
The ancient, pre-Islamic Arg-i-Bam or Citadel of Bam, founded more than 2,000 years ago and a United Nations world heritage site made of mud bricks, clay and straw, was flattened.
"The historic quarter of Bam has been completely destroyed and many of our countrymen are underneath the ruins," said Mohammad Ali Karimi, the governor of Kerman province, where Bam, 600 miles south-east of Teheran, is located on the edge of the Lut desert.
The city was used as a barracks for the army until 1932 and then completely abandoned.
Intensive restoration work began in 1953 and continued till the earthquake.
During Safavid times, the city occupied six square kilometers, was surrounded by a rampart with 38 towers, and had between 9000 and 13,000 inhabitants.