Situation Report: Iranian Earthquake

Situation Report
Originally published
33 Denominations & Communions Working Together to Meet Human Needs

This situation report does not guarantee that an appeal will follow. To give your input, see contact at end of bulletin.

SITUATION: Earthquake survivors in eastern Iran are burying their dead following a massive earthquake Saturday that killed some 2,400 people.

The earthquake, which measured 7.1 on the Richter scale, hit two regions near the Afghan border: Birjand and Qaen. Qaen is located near the epicenter of the quake, which leveled about 200 villages and injured some 6,000 people.

Some 50,000 people were reportedly displaced, and 150 aftershocks had been registered in the area. Initial estimates placed the damage at $77 million.

A new quake with a magnitude of 4.8 hit northwest Iran Monday, but that caused no damage or casualties, the Iranian News Agency reported.

Like two previous earthquakes earlier this year that killed about 1,000 people, Saturday's quake destroyed thousands of mud-brick homes in rural areas. Amid the rubble, survivors wailed and picked through debris, searching for loved ones and possessions.

A spokesman for the Iranian Red Crescent Society said rescue operations would probably continue through Monday to check for additional survivors and bodies of the dead.

In addition to the Iranian Red Crescent Society, the UN Development Program responded to the emergency. Assistance is needed to replenish the Iranian Red Crescent's food stock, and both the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies appealed Monday for $8.2 million to assist Iran.

President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has appealed for international aid through the United Nations. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, France, Turkey and Egypt said they would offer aid. So did the United States, but did not specify how, Reuters reported.

RESPONSE: CWS anticipates issuing an appeal in collaboration with the Middle East Council of Churches, its partner agency, and possibly in conjunction with Action by Churches Together (ACT). The MECC has responded to emergencies in Iran in the past, and has a emergency response coordinator who resides in Tehran. CWS expects the MECC to respond with a proposal for an ecumenical response to the disaster by mid-week.