Eight earth­quakes rat­tle Iran-Iraq bor­der area

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

TEHRAN: A se­ries of eight earth­quakes hit the Iran-Iraq bor­der area and rat­tled even Bagh­dad and parts of the Iraqi coun­try­side yes­ter­day, ap­par­ently af­ter­shocks of a tem­blor in Novem­ber that killed more than 530 peo­ple.

There were no im­me­di­ate re­ports of in­juries or dam­age.

The US Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey (USGS) said seven of the quakes had struck near the Iraqi city of Man­dali and an eighth had struck near Mehran in west­ern Iran. All struck within an hour of each other.

Seven had a pre­lim­i­nary mag­ni­tude of at least 5, while the eighth earthquake was a mag­ni­tude 4. Earth­quakes of mag­ni­tude 5 and up to 5.9 are clas­si­fied as mod­er­ate.

Ira­nian au­thor­i­ties of­fered sim­i­lar fig­ures for the earth­quakes on state tele­vi­sion.

The in­for­ma­tion could change as sci­en­tists ex­am­ine the data.

Ira­nian state tele­vi­sion said on­line that peo­ple had rushed into the streets as the tem­blors hit. In Bagh­dad, peo­ple felt a quake shake the Iraqi cap­i­tal, fol­lowed by what felt like af­ter­shocks.

All the earth­quakes struck at a depth of 10km, ac­cord­ing to the USGS. Earth­quakes at mag­ni­tude 5 can cause con­sid­er­able dam­age.

The tem­blors were also all very shal­low, which causes more ground shaking and po­ten­tial dam­age, par­tic­u­larly in places with­out strict build­ing codes.

In Novem­ber, a ma­jor 7.2 mag­ni­tude earthquake struck the same re­gion, killing more than 530 peo­ple and in­jur­ing thou­sands in Iran alone.

In Iraq, nine peo­ple were killed and 550 were in­jured, all in the coun­try’s north­ern Kur­dish re­gion, ac­cord­ing to the UN.

Randy Bald­win, a geo­physi­cist with the USGS’s National Earthquake In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter in Golden, Colorado, said the earth­quakes all ap­peared to be af­ter­shocks from the Novem­ber tem­blor.

The area was lo­cated in the sparsely pop­u­lated and re­mote Za­gros Moun­tains that di­vide Iraq and Iran and were home to many shal­low faults, he said.

“It’s on­go­ing ac­tiv­ity there,” Bald­win said.

“If there was a stressed fault that was ready to move, they hap­pen like that un­til the stresses are re­lieved, so it’s not too un­usual.”

Iran sits on ma­jor fault lines and is prone to near-daily earth­quakes. In 2003, a 6.6 mag­ni­tude quake flat­tened the his­toric city of Bam, killing 26 000 peo­ple.

Ear­lier yes­ter­day, the USGS said a mag­ni­tude 4.9 quake had hit Iran’s south­ern province of Ker­man be­fore dawn. The of­fi­cial Irna news agency said the tem­blor had rocked the vil­lage of Ho­jedk, about 700km south of Tehran and struck at the depth of 10km.

No in­juries or dam­age were re­ported.

Ker­man has also re­cently seen sev­eral quakes, rang­ing in mag­ni­tude from 4 to 6.2.

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