From: Andrew Johnson
Date: 2008-09-10 18:35:47
afp.google.com/artic… Four dead as powerful quake hits southern Iran TEHRAN (AFP) A powerful earthquake jolted southern Iran on Wednesday, killing four people on an island in strategic Gulf waters and destroying some buildings, officials and news reports said. The US Geological Survey said the 6.1 magnitude quake hit at 1100 GMT about 53 kilometres (33 miles) southwest of the port of Bandar Abbas, which is home to an oil refinery and the country’s main naval base. “So far, four people have been killed and 26 people have been injured,” the head of the country’s emergency services, Abbas Hassani, was quoted as saying by state television. The deaths occurred on Qeshm island, which lies just of the Gulf coast from Bandar Abbas in the strategic oil route of the Strait of Hormuz. “So far we have been conducting rescue operations in about seven villages and we have no estimate of the damage,” the television quoted head of the rescue mission of Iran’s Red Crescent, Ahmad Esfandiari, as saying. However, it was not immediately known if any oil facilities in the area were damaged or whether operations had been halted. The television said the tremor lasted about 30 seconds but was followed by at least 10 aftershocks, the most powerful measuring 4.8 on the Richter Scale. Yaser Hazbavi, the provincial head of the national disasters office, told the television there was some damage on Qeshm and power cuts on some parts of the island, which is more than twice the size of neighbouring Bahrain and is home to about 100,000 people. “A Red Crescent crew is in the area inspecting the situation,” he said. The tremor was felt in Bandar Abbas, which is capital of Hormozgan province, and further afield, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. It quoted local officials as saying some buildings were destroyed and that the quake had a magnitude of more than six on the Richter scale. Iran sits astride several major faults in the earth’s crust, and is prone to frequent earthquakes, many of which have been devastating. The worst in recent times hit Bam in southeastern Kerman province in December 2003, killing 31,000 people — about a quarter of the city’s population — and destroying the city’s ancient mud-built citadel. The deadliest quake in the country was in June 1990 and measured 7.7 on the Richter scale. About 37,000 people were killed more than 100,000 injured in the northwestern provinces of Ghilan and Zandjan. It devastated 27 towns and about 1,870 villages. Tehran alone sits on two major fault lines, and the 7.5 million residents of the capital fear a major quake. The last deadly quake in Iran was in March 2006 when at least 66 people were killed and almost 1,000 injured in the western province of Lorestan near the border with Iraq, although there have been a number of moderate quakes which have left many injured. The Strait of Hormuz is a a vital conduit through which an estimated 40 percent of the world’s crude oil passes. Iran is the OPEC oil cartel’s second-biggest producer, pumping more than four million barrels per day of crude.