Iran, earthquake in the north-west: at least five dead and over 330 wounded

The epicenter of the magnitude 5.9 earthquake at 8 km depth in the province of Eastern Azarbaijan, in an agricultural and mountainous area.  The main shock was followed by another 42 aftershocks.  At least 30 buildings razed to the ground.  The greatest damage concentrated in two villages.


Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The provisional toll of an earthquake that struck northwest in the night is at least five dead and over 330 injured.  According to state television, the epicenter of the 5.9-magnitude quake is located 8 km deep and about 60 km away from the city of Hastrud, in the province of Eastern Azarbaijan.

The main shock was followed by at least 42 aftershockes, five of which were between 4 and 4.8 in the Turkmenchay region.  The experts of the seismology center of the Institute of Geophysics of the University of Tehran also add that the first earthquake was recorded at 1.20 local time, while the last one almost four hours later at 5.10 (2.40 at night in Italy)  .

The local governor Mohammad-Réza Pourmohammadi confirmed the first estimate of five victims and that "the earthquake has destroyed 30 buildings".  Rescue operations involve at least 41 villages scattered in seven provinces, although the greatest damage is recorded in two locations.

At the first tremors, the population of this rural and mountainous area abandoned homes and buildings to save themselves.  Most of the inhabitants returned at dawn, when the situation seemed to normalize.

President Hassan Rouhani called the local governor, ordering to allocate all means and resources to deal with the emergency.

Iran is subject to frequent quakes and tremors because it sits on an area where two large tectonic plates converge. In 1990 a magnitude 7.4 earthquake affected the north of the country killing 40,000 people, wounding 300,000 and leaving half a million homeless people. The quake reduced dozens of towns and at least 2,000 villages to rubble. The long list of deadly tremors continues with two more major events: an earthquake in 2005 that killed over 600 people and a second in 2012 that killed 300 people.