Alireza Haidaree has been up all night carefully directing the spade of his bulldozer through the rubble of mud-brick homes in a desperate search for survivors from the deadly quakes that rocked northwestern Iran.
“This village is a mass grave,” he says, his hollow voice betraying his exhaustion and his frustration at not finding more people alive.
“There are so many other villages that have been completely destroyed.”
Baje Baj, a village 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the town of Varzaqan in Iran's northwest, is just one of dozens that were wiped off the map by two devastating earthquakes on Saturday.
On Sunday, all that was left was the rubble, scoured through by men scrabbling with handtools in a frenzied search for missing loved ones.
Women wailed over some two dozen corpses, most of the bodies those of women or children, their colourful robes belying the darkness of their grief.
The men had been working the fields when the disaster struck while their wives and daughters had been preparing the evening meal to break the daytime fast observed by the faithful during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Residents told AFP that of Baje Baj's population of 414, 33 had died. It was a tragedy replicated in villages across the mountainous region.
Iran lies on several fault lines and has a long, unhappy history of coping with earthquakes. But Saturday's temblors stretched the capacity of the emergency services to respond.
“The magnitude of the disaster is so huge that officials are just managing to get enough people in from other provinces to help out,” one Red Crescent worker said as he handed out bread and emergency supplies.
The official death toll stood at 250 on Sunday after rising steadily since Saturday.
But some local officials advanced far higher figures that were not confirmed by the central government.
Varzaqan mayor Moharam Foroghi said that the villages around his town had been devastated leaving thousands dead.
“Twelve villages were destroyed entirely, each with populations of between 900 and 1,000, of which some 40 percent are dead,” he told the official IRNA news agency.
Although relief workers were quick to get to the quake zone and relatively efficient in setting up rescue operations and aid handouts, dazed survivors said they had expected more from the authorities.
“We spent the whole night outside in the cold until the Red Crescent arrived at 4:00 am and gave us bread and two tents and blankets,” said one man in his 30s who asked not to be identified.
The faces of other survivors reflected the same mix of disappointment, exhaustion and despair over the lives and livelihoods destroyed.
For some, the only succour was their Islamic faith.
A dozen men, wearing the black of Shiite Muslim mourning and sobbing quietly, were seen boiling water, preparing to wash the bodies of the dead for swift burial, as Islamic custom demands.
Another group of around 25 men took turns with shovels to dig graves. All were too distraught to speak. The wailing of their bereaved womenfolk, keening over the bodies laid out nearby, said all.