6/22/2002 Iran Earthquake

Updated 6/30/2002

On Saturday June 22, 2002 at 7:28 AM local time (02:58 GMT) a magniture 6.5 earthquake hit northwest Iran. It was centered around the town of Bou'in-Zahra, in northern Qazvin province about 240 miles west of Teheran. The death toll was originally thought to be over 500 but within a few days was revised downwards to 245. There were an estimated 1,500 injuries and 5,000 homes were destroyed leaving 25,000 people homeless. Nearly 100 villages were badly damaged or destoyed, according to the Red Crescent. Most of the dead were buried when their unreinforced homes collapsed. Emergency services were strained, with local people complaining that the government was too slow to get help to the region and that the death toll was actually higher than the official reports. Efforts to prevent the spread of disease include spraying disinfectant.

International aid has been offered by many countries, including the US, in spite of the strained relations between the two countries. Iran has declared that it will accept some US humanitarian aid.

There have been many strong aftershocks, up to 5.1 Magnitude.

This quake was casued by the movement of the Arabian Plate as it moves to the northwest relative to the Eurasian Plate. The quake had a shallow focus as the earth's crust adjusted to the strain caused by this collision. Frequent shallow focus quakes are the rule in this area. The USGS describes this process as follows: " This recent Iranian earthquake occurred in the Zagros fold-and-thrust belt. This highly seismic region forms the boundary between the Arabian and Eurasian plates. The Arabian Plate is a small plate split from the African Plate by rifting along the Red Sea. As it collides with the massive Eurasian Plate it causes uplift of the Zagros mountains and numerous damaging earthquakes. " (See the Plate Tectonics page for more information on these processes.)

See also the following news stories: