August 14, 2012
Two powerful earthquakes hit north-western Iran just minutes apart on Saturday killing hundreds of people and injuring thousands.
Officials said panicked residents fled into the streets as the powerful 6.2-magnitude quake hit at 4.53 p.m. local time. A second tremor, measuring 6.3 on the scale was reported 11 minutes later according to measurements taken by the US Geological Survey.
The quake, which hit near the city of Tabriz, home to 1.5 million people, managed to escape relatively unscathed except for a few obvious cracks in buildings, said officials at Tehran University’s Seismological Center.
The relatively strong quake also reached the city of Orumieh and its suburbs, damaging building, Kurdpa reporters have confirmed.
The United States on Sunday offered help and condolences to the people of Iran and in a statement issued on Sunday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said “The American people send the Iranian people our deepest condolences for the loss of life in the tragic earthquake in northeastern Iran.”
In a statement early on Sunday, Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan also expressed deepest condolences on this tragic natural disaster. “For this unfortunate natural disaster and the loss of many citizens, we offer our deepest condolences to the family of the victims, express our sympathy and solidarity with those effected and wish the wounded a speedy recovery” said the statement.
“In this difficult circumstance, it is everyone’s duty to assist those who have endured loss” the statement added.
Regime’s supreme leader condolences statement was made hours after the US government’s statement on Sunday and its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has yet to issue a statement on the tragedy, and “his cabinet’s public message lacked specifics about what relief would be provided. No top Iranian official has traveled to the province to meet with residents who lost their family members or homes; instead, Ahmadinejad visited Saudi Arabia.” Mehdi Khalaji from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy stated in a policy alert.
Iran’s government faced criticism on Monday over its timid response to two earthquakes that killed 306 people, with complaints of a lack of tents and medical supplies and facilities and about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s decision to go ahead with an overseas trip, Reuters reported.
The epicentre was 60 kilometers (40 miles) from Tabriz, close to the town of Ahar.
Iran straddles several major fault lines and has suffered several quakes in recent times, the last struck the city of Bam in 2003 when more than 25,000 lost their lives.
Earlier in May, another relatively strong earthquake jolted a small Kurdish town in western Iran near the Iraqi border on Thursday, injuring eight people and damaging buildings.