As the world acknowledged the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction on October 13, while other countries have been making efforts to try and control natural disasters and reduce the numbers of casualties, the people of Iran have fallen victim to a natural disaster of their own in Khuzestan province, with the regime failing to help those affected.
A 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit the Andika county in eastern Khuzestan on October 9. According to the Vatan-e Emrooz daily, of the 600 villages in Andika, 330 have suffered heavy damage while another 30 have been almost destroyed. Houses are destroyed, roads are blocked, and getting relief aid to the citizens of the region is proving difficult.
Iran has 6% of the world’s natural disaster casualties, while it has only 1% of the world’s population. According to the official IRNA News Agency, the economic damage caused by natural disasters in Iran averages $5 billion annually.
As Iran sits on two major tectonic plates, the Eurasian Plate and the Arabian plate, and several active faults run through the country, Iran is prone to frequent seismic activity.
In 2017, Kermanshah province was hit by a powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake which killed over 600 people, and left 70,000 people homeless, with many having to live in tents for almost two years. Then-president Hassan Rouhani later falsely claimed that ‘almost everybody’ had managed to rebuild their homes and returned to them, which was far from the truth.
The former director of the Earthquake Research Department within the regime’s Ministry of Roads, Housing and Urban Development, Ali Beiollahi, said in 2017, “If an earthquake as powerful as the one in Kermanshah province happens in Tehran, 200,000 buildings will be totally destroyed and collapse. The collapse of this many buildings will definitely leave one million casualties, a real disaster indeed.”
A year after the Kermanshah earthquake, the IRNA News Agency reported that many citizens still lacked basic shelter after the destruction of their homes, and those that had tents had to contend with flooding from the rain and streets covered in mud. Many people resorted to using plastic sheets to keep themselves clean and dry.
Another 5.9 magnitudes rocked East Azerbaijan province in northwest Iran. Five people were killed, and at least 520 people were injured. Again, the regime delayed helping locals, and many people have not recovered from this earthquake even after two years.
The President-elect of the NCRI, Maryam Rajavi urged people to help the victims of a 5.7 magnitude earthquake that hit West Azerbaijan. Over 100 villages were damaged as a result and the regime was reportedly covering up the damages sustained.
She said, “I request help for those affected, especially in Khoy and Salmas, and urge vigilance by fellow compatriots in the province about subsequent aftershocks.”
In the case of earthquake fatalities, the cause is usually the collapse of buildings that have been extensively damaged. By adhering to modern building codes, and taking example from other countries, like Japan, which often has high-magnitude earthquakes but minimal amounts of major damage or loss of life of its citizens, Iran would be able to have better control of minimizing future impacts.
The regime could have helped people if it had an effective provincial emergency response system. And finally, countries vulnerable to major earthquakes, like Iran, must invest in research to enhance their knowledge of the hazard, the potential impacts, and seismic safety.