Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Strong quake jolts Iran, felt in Gulf and South Asia

Strong quake jolts Iran, felt in Gulf and South AsiaA powerful earthquake rattled Iran on Tuesday, and was felt in the Gulf and South Asia, where at least five people died and frightened office workers fled from buildings
Pakistanis wait outside after evacuating nearby buildings following tremors in Karachi, on April 16, 2013. A powerful earthquake has rattled Iran on Tuesday, and was felt in the Gulf and South Asia, where at least five people died and frightened office workers fled from buildings, reports said.
It comes a week after one struck near Iran's Gulf port city of Bushehr, killing at least 30 people and injuring 800.
At least 27 people were hurt in Iran on Tuesday, according to a local governor speaking to the official IRNA news agency, but there was no immediate confirmation of any deaths.
In Pakistan, the quake brought down homes, killing at least five people and injuring others, a hospital official said.
"We have received five dead bodies," Ashraf Baloch told AFP by telephone from Mashkail in Washuk district, around three kilometres (1.8 miles) from the border with Iran.
A local health official in Iran told the Fars news agency that more than 20 villages were probably "severely damaged," based on initial reports.
But the deputy head of Iran's state crisis management organisation, Morteza Akbarpour, told Fars news agency casualties should be low considering the rural setting of the stricken area.
IRNA said crisis management authorities had declared a state of emergency in the quake-hit area.
The head of Iran's Red Crescent rescue corps, Mahmoud Mozafar, said communications to the stricken areas have been cut.
The earthquake also shook buildings in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, across the waters of the Gulf in the United Arab Emirates. It was also felt in the Saudi capital Riyadh and in Oman.
In the tourist hub of Dubai, residential and office buildings were evacuated and thousands of people gathered outside skyscrapers.
"Everybody's on the streets. There's a state of panic," said the director of an insurance company in the city centre who identified himself only as Rami.
The grandiose Dubai Mall was completely evacuated, according to employees who said people were evacuated from towers in Downtown Dubai, home to the world's tallest building.
The quake was also strongly felt in Kuwait, particularly in coastal areas, and in the Bahraini capital Manama, where buildings in the central financial district were evacuated.
It was felt across northern India, including in the capital New Delhi. where tremors rattled buildings and led many office workers to run into the street as a precaution.
"We felt the jerks," said SC Basu, a retired government engineer who lives in the east of the Indian capital. "Our beds shook and crockery rattled. Many people left for outside."
There were no immediate reports of any damage or casualties in India, but concern remains high just 10 days after the collapse of a building in Mumbai killed 72 people.
Iran's Seismological Centre said the 7.5-magnitude quake struck at 3:14 pm (1044 GMT) in the southeast near the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan.
It had initially put the depth of the quake at 18km (11 miles) but later revised it to 95km (59 miles).
The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 7.8, and said it struck near the Iranian city of Khash, in the province of Sistan Baluchistan.
Dr David Rothery, chair of the volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis course at Britain's Open University, said "this morning's earthquake in Iran was strong... but fortunately its source was quite deep.
"Although the ground probably shook for the best part of a minute, the intensity of the shaking was less than it would have been for a shallower earthquake of the same magnitude."
But he added that the area "is mountainous, and damage can be expected from landslides as well as because of poorly constructed buildings."
Iran sits astride several major fault lines and is prone to frequent earthquakes, some of which have been devastating.
A double earthquake, one measuring 6.2 and the other 6.0, struck northwest Iran last August, killing more than 300 people and injuring 3,000.
In December 2010, a massive quake struck the southern city of Bam. It killed 26,271 people -- about a quarter of the population -- and destroyed the city's ancient mud-built citadel.

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