Iranian Red Crescent responds to powerful earthquakes in north-west Iran

Published: 12 August 2012

Sunday August 12, Geneva - The Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRCS) is continuing to assist many thousands of people affected by two strong earthquakes which struck Northwestern Iran on the afternoon of Saturday August 11th. At least 250 people have died and over 2000 others have been injured following the two earthquakes, the first of which measured 6.4 on the Richter Scale and struck 23km south-west of Ahar. The second earthquake struck just 11 minutes after the first, 58km north-east of Tabriz at 16:54 local time.

The majority of the deaths and injuries have occurred in rural areas. At least 100 villages have been affected, six of which have been completely flattened. The towns of Haris and Varzeghan, believed to be the epicentre, in East Azerbaijan province, were among those that suffered the most severe casualties. Many people have sustained crush injuries, fractures and broken bones, and are being transported to local hospitals.

The IRCS is continuing efforts in the relief and rescue operation across a large area using helicopters and sniffer dogs and providing first aid and medical relief to those affected. The IRCS has reported difficulties in getting access to some parts of the affected area due to road blockages and more than 55 aftershocks. Communications are also difficult with many phone lines being cut off and communication being reduced to radio.

Following the two strong quakes, thousands of terrified families fled their homes and approximately 16,000 have spent the night sleeping in the open or in emergency shelters or tents. The IRCS has so far erected 3,000 tents in a sports stadium to accommodate those currently without shelter and are on hand providing food, blankets and other emergency items.

Iran straddles a major geological fault line, making it prone to seismic activity. In 2003 an earthquake in the city of Bam left more than 25,000 people dead. The IRCS is very well prepared to respond to such emergencies. At this point there has been no request for international assistance.

We are expecting a more detailed bulletin later this afternoon and will continue to update the media on development. Photographs from the scene are also available upon request.

For further information, please contact:

Dr. Hosam Faysal
Coordinator, IFRC Middle East Disaster Management Unit, Beirut
Tel: +961 5 428 444 | Dir: +961 5 42 8413| Mob: +961 71 802916 | Fax: +961 5 956 058
Email| Skype: hosamfaysal

Pierre Kremer
IFRC Head of Communication, Geneva
+41 792264832

Jessica Sallabank
IFRC Senior Media Relations Officer, Geneva
+41 0799481148