Damavand, Pakdasht, Boumehen, and Pardis are towns with populations ranging from 25,000 to over 120,000. You probably haven’t heard of them. A couple of weeks ago a mild earthquake (3.8 on the Richter scale) shook these towns. They are not famous places, there were no reports of injuries, so there have been no headlines.
But something is very worrying. The epicentre of the earthquake was in Boumehen, less than 50 km from the centre of Tehran. And along with its population of at least 8 million, Tehran sits on about a hundred known fault-lines. The small quake that shook Boumehen is a large reminder of what could one day soon be in store for the capital.
There have been horrific projections of the scale of death and destruction that would descend on the city in the wake of a quake, so much so that two years ago President Ahmadinejad was suggesting that five million people leave Tehran. One major reason for the high casualty figures when earthquakes hit Iran are buildings that do not comply with basic safety regulations. There are plenty of these in Tehran.
The government insists it is ready to deal with any disaster, but the reports coming out of West Azerbaijan where two quakes struck earlier in August are not so encouraging.
• People who felt this earthquake, to ‘look for the life to come’
• Authorities to be ready for major quake
• Churches and international Christian agencies