Southeastern Iran Hit By Two Strong Earthquakes, 37 Injured

Iran’s southeastern province of Kerman has been hit by at least two strong quakes in recent days, injuring at least 18 people and damaging around 20 buildings, Radio Farda reported.

The first quake of magnitude 5.9 struck on early on December 12 about 56 kilometers north of Kerman, a city with a population of more than 820,000. The tremor, initially reported as magnitude 6.2 by the U.S. Geological Survey before it was revised downward, was followed by dozens of smaller aftershocks.

During the night, early on December 13, a stronger quake of magnitude 6.0 struck the same area, the survey said. It was more shallow, only 10 kilometers deep, a factor that amplifies the shaking, the survey said. The latest quake was centered 64 kilometers north of Kerman, it said.

“Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are extremely vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist,” the service said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or fatalities. IRNA quotes the head the provincial medical emergency services as saying that 37 people were injured, mainly during a rush to evacuate buildings during the latest tremor. Pictures posted on state media showed people standing in streets in the quake zone to avoid being trapped by collapsing buildings. The 20 buildings reported damaged were mostly older structures, state media reported. The pictures showed collapsed mud-brick walls.

On December 11, another quake, which Iranian state media reported at 6.0 and the USGS reported at 5.4, hit western Iran, in the same region where a magnitude-7.3 earthquake killed at least 530 people last month. There have been no reports of deaths or injuries from that quake.

According to the Iranian Seismological Center, the epicenter of the quake was about 10 km deep. It struck the area of Azgaleh in Kermanshah province at around 17:39 local time on Monday. The closest cities in the area are Azgaleh, 26km and Nowsood, 38km away from the epicentre and the provincial capital city of Kermanshah is 143 km away. No damages or casualties have been reported yet.

Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported that the quake was most strongly felt in the Ozgoleh region of the western Kermanshah province. The quake was also reportedly felt by residents of Iran’s Kurdistan and Western Azerbaijan provinces.

Monday’s tremor sparked panic among the population of Kermanshah, causing heavy traffic in the city as citizens rushed to the street, local media reported. The area has seen some 1,200 aftershocks since last month, most of them below magnitude 4, Mehr News Agency reported on Saturday.

While Iranian media reported the quake at 6.0 magnitude, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) measured it at magnitude at 5.4. The USGS said that the quake struck Halabjah, Iraq at 10:09 p.m. (local time) and had a depth of 17km. Chief of Crisis Management of Kermanshah province, Reza Mahmoudian, told Tasnim news agency that “there has been no report of casualties or damage in the cities or villages of Kermanshah so far”.

Iran is prone to near-daily quakes as it sits on major fault lines. Iran is located on top of two major tectonic plates and sees frequent seismic activity. In 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.

Back on November 12, another massive earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale had rattled the same spot in Kermanshah province and killed at least 620 people. State media said the epicenter of the December 11 earthquake was near the town of Ezgele, but tremors were also felt in Kermanshah, the largest city in the area.