2008 Bandar Abbas earthquake
|Date||10 September 2008|
|Depth||15 km (9.3 miles)|
|Areas affected||Iran, United Arab Emirates|
|Casualties||7 dead, 45 injured|
The 2008 Bandar Abbas earthquake occurred on 10 September 2008 in the Hormozgān Province of southern Iran, 850 kilometres (528 mi) south of Tehran. Its epicenter was near the port city of Bandar Abbas, where an earthquake two years prior had caused damage. The earthquake measured 6.1 on the Moment magnitude scale and 6 on the surface wave scale, killing seven people and injuring up to 47. Causing both catastrophic and minor damage, the earthquake devastated up to 200 villages throughout southern Iran, but left the port city of Bandar Abbas almost unscathed. Citizens reportedly panicked when the earthquake hit, emptying into the parks of the city and other open areas.
Iran's earthquake history reaches as far back as 856 AD, and involves at least 29 documented earthquakes. Each sector of the country has experienced seismic activity, varying from minor to great events.
Earthquakes in Iran are almost exclusively confined to the upper lithosphere (crust), placing them relatively near the surface. Iran hosts multiple fault lines; roughly 90% of the country is seismically active. The earthquake had a depth of 15 kilometres (9 mi).
The earthquake posed a threat to all of Bandar Abbas' oil companies, as well as at least one highly productive and expensive refinery at the time of the earthquake. Because of past earthquakes, including one in 2006, many of the city's homes had been rebuilt and outfitted with seismically engineered designs. The major oil refinery did not sustain damage, according to Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, the vice-president of investment affairs for National Iranian Oil Company.
Damage and casualties
The earthquake occurred at 3:00 pm local time and was followed by up to seventeen aftershocks. The main shock lasted at least 30 seconds. According to the BBC, fatalities from the tremor were limited to Qeshm Island; 30 people were injured. Qeshm Island reported 15 injured; its homes were constructed from earthquake-resistant material. The earthquake was felt throughout southern Iran, causing slight to moderate damage. Mercalli scale ratings of IV (moderate) were assigned to Ajman and Ra's al Khaymah, and intensity III (slight) occurred in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah. Doha in Qatar also reported the earthquake.
Though major locations held up well against the earthquake, most villages did not. From Qeshm Island came reports of power outage and minor damage; 100 houses in all of Qeshm were damaged between 30 and 50 percent. 200 villages were devastated by the earthquake's velocity. Walls in the village of Zeynabi were leveled; all were reduced by the earthquake to debris. Relief workers were sent to rescue any residents from their homes if they had been caught under debris.
Many residents of Bandar Abbas initially fled into nearby parks where they felt they would be safe, many of them screaming. One local described the shaking as, "When the quake struck, it was like a snake bite". Other residents exited their homes and stood in the streets of the city. Dubai's residents were evacuated from high-rise buildings and many were frightened, calling in to report the earthquake to officials. At least one Red Cross official described the earthquake as low caliber, stating it was "unlikely the quake had caused a high number of casualties".
As the world's worst in a 2004 report on countries with poor earthquake engineering, Iran is especially prone to earthquakes. In addition, poor construction practice has exacerbated death tolls; 1 in 3,000 Iranians has died in an earthquake-related incident. Roger Bilham, a professor at the University of Colorado declared that "Most of Iran needs rebuilding. If the population of Iran had a choice between spending oil revenues on munitions or houses that won't kill them, I suspect they would choose a safe home. It's all a matter of earthquake education." The United Nations developed a Common Country Assessment for Iran, stating, "While adequate building regulations exist for large cities, it is generally believed that they are not rigorously adhered to... most of those who have suffered in recent major earthquakes have lived in small towns and villages. Earthquake-proof construction is very rare in those areas and adequate building regulations are not yet in place".
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