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Massive Quake Rattles the Middle East

Over 500 People Killed In 2017's Deadliest Earthquake Yet

Victims%27+families+mourn+the+loss+of+their+loved+ones.+Photo+credit+to+Nytimes.com.
Victims' families mourn the loss of their loved ones. Photo credit to Nytimes.com.

Victims' families mourn the loss of their loved ones. Photo credit to Nytimes.com.

Victims' families mourn the loss of their loved ones. Photo credit to Nytimes.com.

Sophie West, Editor

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On Sunday, November 12, at 9:48 p.m., the Middle East was struck with a 7.3 magnitude earthquake. The epicenter was in Ezgeleh, Iran, and it was this year’s deadliest earthquake so far. Over 500 people were killed, and 7,460 Iranians were injured. In Iraq, at least 8 were killed and 535 were hurt, according to spokesman for the Health Ministry, Dr. Saif al-Badir.

Rescue workers extracting a victim from the rubble. Photo credit to Nytimes.com.

Hundreds of people lined up to donate blood on Monday morning, in response to a request issued by the government. The office of the Iranian Ayatollah Ali Kinamenie, a high-ranking Islamic cleric, urged rescue workers to hasten the rescue efforts. Although the country’s religious leaders consider dogs unclean, police and rescue dogs are acceptable, and the Iranian Red Crescent utilized dogs in the search for survivors. By Monday night, the officials declared that the rescue mission was nearly over (Nytimes.com).

 

Earthquakes in Iran are not unexpected, as it rests on a major fault line between the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates. In 2003, Iran was hit with a 6.6 magnitude earthquake, which killed 26,000 people in the southeastern city of Bam. In 1990, 37,000 people were killed in the northern cities of Rudbar, Manjil, and Lushan. Many surrounding villages were destroyed (Cnn.com).

 

Although earthquakes are common in Iran, the Deputy Interior Minister Mohammed-Esmaeil Najjar stated in January 2017 that Tehran, the capital city, is “only ten percent prepared [for] an earthquake.” He added that the skyscrapers in Tehran are made of metal, cement, and “building materials that dozens of people. . .are not able to move,” and Iran does not have the necessary equipment to easily move modern buildings damaged by earthquakes (Ncr-iran.org).

 

Majida Ameer, a woman from Baghdad, initially thought a huge bomb had gone off. She was having dinner with her children when the building began “dancing in the air” (Cnn.com). Photographs show damaged cars and buildings, as well as people sleeping in the streets in fear of aftershocks (Nytimes.com).

 

Residents of Pol-e Zebab were reportedly frustrated with the lack of response. The Iranian government newspaper spoke to a man in his thirties as he expressed frustration with the slow response. “There has been no help yet, neither food nor water, no clothing, no tents, there is nothing,” he lamented, standing among the rubble. “We’ve

Residents of Pol-e Zahab, Iran, in the aftermath of the quake. Photo credit to Nytimes.com.

slept outside since last night . . . Our electricity, water, gas, phone lines are out. . .the whole city has been destroyed.” Among many other images circulating on Twitter is a photo displaying soldiers searching the rubble by the light of their cell phones (Nytimes.com).

 

Although the United States does not maintain normal diplomatic relations with Iran, they sent “several planeloads of aid” following the tragedy (Nytimes.com). U.S. state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert issued a statement saying, “We keep the families of those who were killed, and injured, in our thoughts as well as the communities that have suffered damage to homes and property.” While the supplies and condolences will be much appreciated, they will not help Iran in the long run. The construction standards of many Iranian cities have come into question (Theguardian.com). Of course, higher construction standards cannot prevent future damage. Ali Namiq, a resident of Darbandikhan, Iraq, described earthquakes as “a divine act that no one can prevent” (Nytimes.com). Preparation for future disasters might reduce future earthquake damage, but natural disasters are often random and unavoidable, as well as incredibly tragic.

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Massive Quake Rattles the Middle East