Three Moderate Earthquakes Rattle Iran, Strongest 5.6 Magnitude Quake Strikes Western Iran

A series of moderate earthquakes shook Iran on Thursday but there were no immediate reports of victims or damage. An earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale has once again jolted Soomar city, a district located on the border of Ilam and Kermanshah provinces in Western Iran where infrastructure is already weakened from a series of earthquakes and aftershocks since November, Iran Front Page reports.

The tremor was felt in the neighboring Kordestan provinces. People in Soomar rushed to the streets in panic, state IRIB TV said. According to the National Seismological Centre of the University of Tehran’s Institute of Geophysics, the earthquake hit an area 13km away from the town of Sumar in Kermanshah province on Thursday at 10:29 a.m. local time.

Another 4.4 magnitude earthquake hit nearby halfway between the Kurdish majority cities of Kermanshah and Sanandaj in Iranian Kurdistan on Sunday morning in the already fragile city which suffered from a 7.3 magnitude quake in November.

Last year’s quake, which struck the Iraq-Iran border the evening of November 12, 2017, left 620 dead and over 12,000 wounded in Iran with massive infrastructure damage. Since the November 12 earthquake, 1,600 aftershocks have been recorded in Kermanshah. Ten cities and 1930 villages were affected across the province and poor quality construction of low-income housing in the Kurdish majority community is being blamed for the high death toll.

The epicenter, with a depth of 8km, was determined to be at 33.78 degrees latitude and 45.74 degrees longitude. Later at 10:44 am, the same area was also hit by a 5.4-magnitude quake. The temblors hit on Thursday morning, were felt far and wide and even rattled the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

Earlier in the morning, a 5.1-magnitude quake had rattled Kerman province in southern Iran. The official IRNA news agency says the temblor rocked the village of Hojedk, located about 700 kilometers, or 400 miles, south of Tehran early on Thursday. It says the quake’s depth was 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles. There were no immediate reports of casualties and the extent of the damages inflicted on the quake-hit area. Kerman has recently seen several quakes, ranging in magnitude from 4 to 6.2.

A scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey has confirmed that so far, seven separate earthquakes have struck along the Iran-Iraq border area in the morning hours. The scientist says it appears that all are aftershocks from a November temblor that killed over 530 people.

Geophysicist Randy Baldwin told The Associated Press on Thursday that such quakes should be expected in the region after the November 7.2 magnitude temblor. Baldwin, speaking from Golden, Colorado, said that “it’s ongoing activity there. … If there was a stressed fault that’s ready to move, they happen like that until the stresses are relieved, so it’s not too unusual.”

The USGS says the preliminary magnitude of six of the temblors was at least 5, while the seventh was a magnitude 4.

Iran sits on major fault lines and is prone to near-daily earthquakes. In 2003, a 6.6 magnitude quake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.