Iran jolted by moderate, light earthquakes; 290 injured

A series of moderate earthquakes in southern and western Iran injured an estimated 150 people. (Shutterstock)
Updated 22 July 2018
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Iran jolted by moderate, light earthquakes; 290 injured

  • Two quakes struck a remote region near the town of Lar in the southern Hormozgan province
  • A series of moderate earthquakes in southern and western Iran injured an estimated 150 people

TEHRAN: Iran was jolted by a series of moderate and light earthquakes on Sunday, including a 5.9 magnitude temblor in a mountainous western region in which officials said some 290 people were injured.
The first temblor, measuring a magnitude of 4.6 rocked the town of Ruydar, in Hormozgan province, earlier in the day. The town is located some 940 kilometers, or 580 miles, south of the capital, Tehran.
It was followed shortly after by a 5.4 magnitude aftershock, according to the United States Geological Survey. Iran’s semi-official news agency had initially reported the magnitude at 5.7.
No injuries were reported.
In the afternoon, a 5.9 magnitude quake rocked an area in western Iran near the border with Iraq in Kermanshah province.
The head of the country’s agency that handles responses to emergencies and natural disasters, Pirhossein Kolivand, told state television that 146 people were injured, including 21 who were taken to hospitals for treatment. Kolivand did not mention any fatalities and could not be reached by phone for further details.
Some houses in the region were damaged, and the earthquake caused a landslide that temporarily shut down a local road, the governor of Karmanshah, Houshang Bazvand, told semi-official Tasnim news agency.
Local residents reported multiple aftershocks through the day, said Morteza Salimi, an official with Iran’s Red Crescent aid agency.
Iran sits on major fault lines and is prone to regular earthquakes. A magnitude 7.2 quake hit western Iran in November, killing more than 600. In 2003, a 6.6 magnitude quake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.


Assad backs down over law to seize refugee homes

Updated 15 min 33 sec ago
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Assad backs down over law to seize refugee homes

  • ‘Law 10’ withdrawn, UN humanitarian aid chief Jan Egeland says
  • The law was a major impediment to the return of millions of refugees and internally displaced people who fled their homes

BEIRUT: The Assad regime has withdrawn a law that allowed authorities to seize property left behind by civilians who fled the war in Syria, the UN humanitarian aid chief in the country said on Thursday.

Under Law 10, Syrians had 30 days to prove that they own property in redevelopment zones in order to receive shares in the projects, otherwise ownership was transferred to the local government.

The law was a major impediment to the return of millions of refugees and internally displaced people who fled their homes. Regime officials have insisted the law would not result in the confiscation of property, but was aimed at proving and organizing ownership to combat forgery of documents in opposition-held areas.

Jan Egeland, who heads aid issues in the office of UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, said he had been told of the decision to withdraw the law by Russia, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s key military ally.

“When Russia says that it is withdrawn and there were mistakes made ... it is good news,” Egeland said. “Hopefully this will now be reality on the ground. So diplomacy can win — even in Syria.”

Syrian politician Mohammed Kheir Akkam said the law had issued by presidential decree and he knew of no decree to abolish it. “These claims are not true so far,” he said.

Nevertheless, Syrian refugees across the border in Lebanon welcomed reports that the law had been withdrawn. “We have not heard the news yet, but this is an excellent move,” Abu Mohammed, who is from Al-Qusayr and is the former head the water department in Homs, told Arab News. 

“This move reflects the goodwill of the Syrian regime toward its displaced people abroad. Their discourse is no longer an escalation against us, but an attempt to re-establish trust between Syrian citizens and the Syrian regime.”

Khalid Melhem, from Qalamoun, said the withdrawal of the law was “a gesture of goodwill, on which trust can be built.”

Melhem, an interior designer in Syria, now lives in a tent in Arsal and works as a house painter.  “I own a 300-square-meter house in Damascus, but the authorities demolished it and acquired the land. I could not return to Syria to prove my ownership of the house because they want to lure me into the country and arrest me.”

The regime acquired the property, 600 meters from the barracks of the Scientific Studies and Research Center, in 2017. “They demolished all damaged houses surrounding the barracks and prevented anyone from approaching the property except for a few Alawites, who were allowed to rebuild and reclaim their homes,” Melhem said.