Poor construction to blame for more deaths as Iran suffers another quake

A strong earthquake shook Iran last week, killing at least 45 people and damaging more than 80 villages full of shoddily constructed buildings.

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By  Rhys Jones Published  June 4, 2004

A strong earthquake shook Iran last week, killing at least 45 people, some buried by landslides on a mountain road, and seriously damaging more than 80 villages full of shoddily constructed buildings that could not cope with the force of the quake. Iranian officials said that the death toll was expected to rise due to the number of people burried under the rubble. More than 100 others were reported injured by the 6.2 magnitude earthquake, which was centered about 72 km north of Tehran. Eight provinces in central and northern Iran were affected by the temblor, with the worst damaged villages near Alamout, about 120 km west of Tehran. The depth of the latest quake was estimated at between 16 and 25 km, which makes it fairly shallow but still deeper than the recent Bam quake, according to USGS geophysicist Waverly Person, a USGS geophysicist. “At that range, it’s not quite as shallow as the Bam earthquake,” Person said. “We don’t expect the damage we had in Bam.” Buildings in Iran are notorious for not being earthquake-resistant but with the world’s supply of housing set to double within 50 years, adding 1 billion new homes and apartments, it appears the problem can be fixed. Earthquake resistant houses cost only 10% more to build than an average house yet the investment is rarely made. “It’s partly graft, and partly people really taking the low bid. It’s appalling, it’s shameful, that we live on a planet where we allow it. The buildings that people live in are their burial points,” said Ross Stein, a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey.

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