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Coming earthquake in Tehran

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Joined: 14 Jul 2003
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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 7:05 am    Post subject: Coming earthquake in Tehran Reply with quote

Recently, I have thought a lot about the impending catastrophe that is Tehran. We all have Bam stuck in the back of our memories, but every Iranian has some kind of relation to our nations capitol.

I have a lot of family living in Tehran, as I'm sure most of the members of this forum also have. The reasons to fear an earthquake with same magnitude as the Bam-quake are many. As far as I am concerned many geoligists also think that there is only a matter of time before a quake of similar size hits Tehran.

This brings me to my main concern, the structural integrity of Tehran's buildings. Are they in anyway built to withstand earthquakes? I think not, as in every other part of the Iranian society, the IRI has totally neglected the dangers and the requirements of building highrise buildings in earthquake zones. Corruption creeps in the field of construction, and basic security measures are bypassed.

IPS wrote:

By Mahan Abedin*

BEIRUT, 7 Jan. The earthquake that destroyed the ancient city of Bam in southeastern Iran on 26 December has focused attention on the incompetence of the Iranian authorities.

Why, after all, in a country widely seen as the most earthquake-prone in the world, do these tragedies frequently recur? But such criticism must not cloud the bigger picture: A strong earthquake is likely to hit Iranís capital, Tehran, in the near future. The implications are almost too calamitous to contemplate. Not least, it could threaten the very survival of the authorities being blamed for not doing enough to lessen the human costs of such disasters.

The political vultures were quick to descend upon the corpses of Bam. The Iranian journalist Amir Taheri, writing in the Saudi daily "Arab News", claimed that much of the shoddy buildings in Bam were the result of property racketeering engendered by the 1979 Iranian revolution.

According to Taheri, the turmoil that ensued after ex-Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlaviís ouster enabled swindlers to seize large chunks of land in Bam, on which poorly constructed houses and shops were built. Taheri added that the deals were backed by fatwa-issuing clerics who in turn received a healthy slice of the profits. Yet he provided not a shred of evidence to buttress these allegations.

Arguably, David Aaronovitch, writing in "The Guardian" on 30 December, delivered the best piece of political commentary. Extolling the virtues of American masonry and the value put on human life in the US, Aaronovitch noted that the earthquake that recently hit California with almost the same intensity as the Bam quake killed only 2 people. Despite his insight, however, Aaronovitchís closing comment, "Some Iranians might think that itís a shame there wasnít a McDonaldís in Bam. It would have been the safest place in town," was as facile as it was inappropriate.

The incompetence of the Iranian authorities is not, as some would imply, the result of ideology. Rather, it is symptomatic of the same kind of incompetence and sheer disrespect for human life that is visible all across the developing world, and which also, for example, was responsible for the thousands of lives lost in the Turkish earthquake of 1999. And Turkey, lest pundits forget, is ultra-secular and staunchly pro-Western. The Islamic regime in Iran does not wield a monopoly on incompetence.

None of this, of course, must detract attention from apportioning blame justly. The earthquake not only snuffed out tens of thousands of lives, it destroyed one of the features of Iranian civilization: Bamís ancient citadel, known as the Arg, was initially built under the Sassanian Dynasty. It now lies in ruins. Defenses could have been erected to safeguard these ancient fortifications in the event of a major natural disaster. Bam had, after all, suffered three major quakes in the 20th century.

But the real challenge for Iran is far more menacing. What happened in Bam could occur on a far larger scale in Tehran. In February 2003, a seminar on construction was held in the capital, during which Mohsen Ghafouri Ashtiyani, the head of the International Seismological Research Centre, which is affiliated with the Science Ministry, made a stark warning that the fault lines around Tehran were sliding and accumulating energy. He made an ominous prediction: "There is a strong likelihood of an earthquake striking the Iranian capital Ö On the basis of the studies, the probability of a quake above seven degrees on the Richter scale in the next 10 years currently stands at 65 percent, and this is expected to increase with the passing of time."

Another expert present at the seminar, Farid Mahdian, the head of the Tehran Earthquake Research Centre, claimed that the activation of the Ray fault line, situated to the south of Tehran, would lead to the destruction of over 90 percent of this Tehran suburb. Mahdian added, alarmingly: "In case of an earthquake, this Tehran district will witness catastrophic losses in human life."

The experts could have cited the example of Mexico City when discussing damage limitation. The city suffered an earthquake in 1985 that claimed 10,000 lives. Subsequently the city implemented some of Latin Americaís toughest building codes. Interestingly, on New Yearís Day an earthquake that hit off the Mexican coast was strongly felt in Mexico City. No major destruction was reported.

Despite dire warnings of an impending disaster in Tehran, the authorities have done virtually nothing. This not only shows a breathtaking disregard for human life and property, it could also prove to be bad politics. Tehran is, after all, the undisputed political and economic center of Iran. A massive earthquake there could potentially collapse literally and symbolically the institutions of the Islamic Republic.

In his analysis, Aaronovitch got one thing eloquently right: Iranís post-revolutionary elites are indeed, as he put it, a "useless, incompetent semi-theocracy, which is fatalistic, complacent, unresponsive and often brutal." But they have one thing going for them: They have a sharp sensitivity when predicting and foiling events that could potentially threaten their political survival. It is perhaps this sense of political survival that is the only hope for improving Tehranís defenses against a massive quake. ENDS IRAN EARTHQUAKE 7104

Editorís note: Mr. Mahan Abedin, a London-based financial consultant and analyst of Iranian politics, wrote this commentary for the Beirut-based "The Daily Star".

Highlights and some editing are by IPS.

I fear the consequenses of an earthquake in Tehran. Even if the IRI was to collapse today, this problem would still continue to exist for many generations to come. Tehran is a catastrophe waiting to happen.
Zoroaster's philosophy: Good thoughts, good words, good deeds.
P‚yandeh b‚d x‚ke Ir‚n e m‚!
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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 8:57 pm    Post subject: y Reply with quote

You make a very good point - and it is a very understandable worry. A major earthquake would likely collapse the regime, but more important is the loss of Iranian life and injuries.

I think that once the regime is gone, and things in the Middle East improve, the oil money and other moneys generated from this highly valuable part of the world (both in resources and intellectual capital) will be directed at all of these things such as rebuilding and strengthening infrastructure, both buildings, roads, etc... Money will go to the people - not to the corrupt regime.

YOu should write an article about this danger of another earthquake, even one more serious and disatrous than Bam.
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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 5:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for your reply perzopolis. Maybe I should write an article, but I think I'll let the experts handle that Wink

Of course, once the regime, these kinds of problems have to be dealt with very seriously. Iran is going to face a hard time to after ther mullahhs, when we have to rebuild the havoc the IRI left behind. But of course, it will all be worth while.
Zoroaster's philosophy: Good thoughts, good words, good deeds.
P‚yandeh b‚d x‚ke Ir‚n e m‚!
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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are some which are built with certain amount of protection.

However, one thing that we need to know is that we are a third world country. As long as we are what we are, these things are some of things that can be a catastrophy and is part of Iranians natural evolutionary law and order.

One thing about Iran and Iranian that should be always in back of our mind is our mentality. Even if, we try our best to construct, we are traditionally very corrupted nation. To take control of this very insufficiency, you need dictatorship. And that is what we are all against, right?

But democracy, law, respect is something we dont have today. Would we do better if law and care of government was there? Probably yes. Better, but not much.

A nation should be built by their countryman. No government can help a corrupted nation. As long as we dont take the initiative to build ourselves for ourselves, we come like a goosfand and we leave like a goosfand. (Sorry for the term, I cant find a better description).

Basically, we are obliged to leave this world in exactly the same way we come into it. You improve the latter, you can improve the former. And who would ever be able to improve it? Easy. No other than me and you and our friends and our countryman.

Lets just leave the government out of this and realize that the best of best that can currently happen to us will be as corrupted as the current one. We as individuals are key to our improvement. Nothing else.
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