Two dead, many injured in multiple quakes in Iran

Images on social media showed people being rushed to hospitals, but suggested relatively light damage to infrastructure. (Photo: Social media)
Updated 26 August 2018
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Two dead, many injured in multiple quakes in Iran

  • Three earthquakes hit Iran, killing at least two and injuring many more
  • A crisis center had been set up, with hospitals and relief organizations placed on alert

Tehran: A strong 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck western Iran near the border with Iraq early Sunday, killing two people and injuring more than 250.
The shallow quake hit 26 kilometers southwest of the city of Javanrud in Kermanshah province, the US Geological Survey said, near the site of a powerful quake last year that killed hundreds.
Kermanshah governor Houshang Bazvand told state broadcaster IRIB that two people were killed and 255 injured.
The head of the emergency department at Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Saeb Sharidari, said the two dead were a pregnant woman and a 70-year-old man who suffered a heart attack.
State news agency IRNA quoted local officials saying that electricity had been cut to 70 villages but that it was restored to at least 50 by dawn.
It added that there had been more than 65 aftershocks.
Bazvand said at least 500 buildings had been destroyed and would need to be completely rebuilt.
There were potential problems with drinking water due to damaged infrastructure in villages, but the local Red Crescent chief, Mohammad Reza Amirian, said it had not yet been necessary to distribute food and tents.
A crisis center was set up, with hospitals and relief organizations placed on alert.
But the local director of crisis management, Reza Mahmoudian, told the Mehr news agency that “the situation was under control” and no request for help had been sent to neighboring provinces.
There were reports that the quake was felt far across the border into Iraq.
Images on social media showed people being rushed to hospitals, but suggested relatively light damage to infrastructure.
Iran sits on top of two major tectonic plates and sees frequent seismic activity.
Kermanshah is still recovering from a devastating 7.3-magnitude quake that struck last November, killing 620 people in the province and another eight people in Iraq.
That quake left more than 12,000 people injured and damaged some 30,000 houses, leaving huge numbers homeless at the start of the cold season in the mountainous region.
Local officials said the estimated cost of reconstruction would be measured in the billions of dollars, at a time when Iran is struggling with a deepening economic downturn.
There was criticism that much of the new social housing built as part of a scheme championed by ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had failed to withstand the tremor.
President Hassan Rouhani said those responsible would be held to account.
Iran’s deadliest quake in recent years was a 6.6-magnitude tremor that struck the southeast in 2003, decimating the ancient mud-brick city of Bam and killing at least 31,000 people.
In 1990, a 7.4-magnitude quake in northern Iran killed 40,000 people, injured 300,000 and left half a million homeless, reducing dozens of towns and nearly 2,000 villages to rubble.


 


Erdogan offers seminary exchange for Greek mosque minarets

Updated 16 February 2019
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Erdogan offers seminary exchange for Greek mosque minarets

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday suggested the mosque in Athens should open with minarets if the Greek premier wants to reopen a seminary in Istanbul.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was in Turkey this month and visited the disputed landmarks of Hagia Sophia and the now-closed Greek Orthodox Halki seminary.
Tsipras said during the visit to the seminary located on Heybeli island off Istanbul on February 6 he hoped to reopen the school next time with Erdogan.
Future priests of the Constantinople diocese had been trained at the seminary, which was closed in 1971 after tensions between Ankara and Athens over Cyprus.
Erdogan on Saturday complained that the Fethiye Mosque in Athens had no minarets despite Greek insistence that it would open.
The mosque was built in 1458 during the Ottoman occupation of Greece but has not been used as a mosque since 1821.
“Look you want something from us, you want the Halki seminary. And I tell you (Greece), come, let’s open the Fethiye Mosque,” Erdogan said during a rally in the northwestern province of Edirne ahead of local elections on March 31.
“They said, ‘we are opening the mosque’ but I said, why isn’t there a minaret? Can a church be a church without a bell tower?” he said, describing his talks with Tsipras.
“We say, you want to build a bell tower? Come and do it... But what is an essential part of our mosques? The minarets,” the Turkish president added.
Erdogan said Tsipras told him he was wary of criticism from the Greek opposition.
After the independence war against Ottomans began in 1821, the minaret is believed by some to have been destroyed because it was a symbol of the Ottoman occupation.
Ankara had returned land taken from the seminary in 1943 but there is still international pressure on Turkey to reopen it.
Erdogan has previously said that its reopening is dependent on reciprocal steps from Greece to enhance the rights of the Turkish minority.