Experts’ reports and specialized centers have raised the severity degree of a devastating earthquake that might hit the Iranian capital Tehran to the highest level on the Modified Mercalli intensity scale, noting that the possibility of a devastating earthquake of the eleventh or twelfth grade, equivalent to 7.4 to 8.9 on Richter scale, in the Iranian capital, is very high and almost certain. Every time an earthquake hits Iran, the Iranian people become frightened as this would usually followed by reports and studies that warn of a devastating earthquake that could end the lives of 1-2 million people.

More recently, there have been increasing warnings from specialists of the occurrence of this type of earthquakes in the capital Tehran, and many experts expressed their fears of an earthquake of more than 7 degrees on the Richter scale. Recent studies have shown that Tehran may soon face this deadly crisis. Scientific evidence published in recent years have shown that the possibility of a major earthquake in Tehran is very high. Mahdi Zari’, a specialist in the Center for Seismic Research said that every 200 years, a 7-magnitude earthquake occurs in Tehran and that the last earthquake with a similar devastation occurred in 1830, which hit an area of 100 km in Tehran. It is been now 189 years since that earthquake, which would mean that Tehran has only between 6 to 12 years before being hit by a devastating earthquake, and the probability of such earthquakes is very high.

What makes things worse is the weakness and the miserable condition of the buildings in Tehran. Many Iranian experts and officials have pointed out to this problem and warned that buildings in Tehran are unable to withstand any earthquake due to its bad shape. The deputy minister of roads, housing and urban construction, Mohammad Shokrzadeh, has also pointed to the neglect of the safety of buildings in the country and said that there are five hospitals and 100 towers of 12 floors have been built in areas with high risk of earthquakes. Shokrzadeh also pointed out to the status of hospitals’ construction and stressed that they are not safe, and their situation are unacceptable.

In the same context, Assistant Minister of Interior and head of the Organization of Crisis Management in Iran, Ismail Najjar, has stressed that Tehran is not ready for a major earthquake at all. More recently, fears of a devastating earthquake in Tehran have reached Iranian newspapers and news agencies which have highlighted the risks and possible losses that a devastating earthquake might cause, describing these possible losses as significant, and the death toll could range from 1 million to 2 million. Media outlets also warned that there are more than five thousand high-rise and government buildings in Tehran which are not safe and do not resist earthquakes.

The deputy director of the fire-fighting organization in Tehran, Mahmoud Kadeeri, has said that during the past three years, between 4000 to 5000 government buildings has been identified as not safe, but no action was taken on this matter, and the excuse was always that there is no budget for that. However, Kadeeri says, in the event of an earthquake, the losses will be huge. A member of Tehran’s municipal council and the chairman of the budget committee, Majid Farhani, said regarding Tehran’s lack of readiness for any major earthquake, that the renovation of old buildings is one of the most important measures that the Tehran municipality must take in order to prevent the devastating outcomes of an earthquake that may hit Tehran. Lessons can be learned from the devastating earthquake that hit Kermanshah recently, adding that everyone knows that A quake of magnitude 7 occurs in Tehran every 170 years, and that the last such earthquake hit Tehran 185 years ago. Which means that the earthquake is already late 15 years! This means that a major earthquake is about to occur in Tehran and we must be prepared for, especially since 15% of the population lives in worn buildings and even with an earthquake of magnitude 6, more than one million people will be at risk.

Studies by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japanese researchers in 2004 also confirmed that in the event of an earthquake in Tehran, between 1 and 2 million people would die.

Recently, the Iranian authorities sought to alleviate the panic and fear that gripped the people in Tehran in many ways, including the arrest of 20 people who were spreading the rumor that a 7.5-magnitude earthquake would hit the capital Tehran, where the head of the police department in Tehran, Hussein Rahimi, has announced that 20 persons have been arrested because of spreading rumors. The government newspapers were also keen to publish reports in a bid to alleviate the prevailing state of fear, but were unable to deny the risk of the earthquake but adopted a less frightening approach and said that in the event of an earthquake in Tehran, the magnitude would be between 6.9 and 7.1 degrees on the Richter scale, and this earthquake will destroy 500,000 housing units and kill only 250,000 people!

Al Mezmaah Studies & Research Centre

marsh 5, 2019