- Published: Monday, 11 May 2020
On 7 May, an earthquake measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale near the Damavand Mountain, east of Iran’s capital Tehran, shook and shocked the city and the people. It brought the people to the streets and changed the face of the city in the coronavirus situation.
Mohsen Hashemi, Chairman of the City Council of Tehran, told a meeting of the Tehran City Council on 10 May about this event:
“After the earthquake of 2017, we saw another earthquake in the capital, but we see that after each earthquake, these issues are raised and after a while, it is forgotten. We have more than 300 districts in Tehran, that special facility should be considered for them according to the conditions of each of them. In this important matter, the government should help the city administration, because given the situation in Tehran, if an earthquake of more than 6 magnitudes on the Richter scale occurs, the vulnerability of Tehran would definitely increase. The government has a duty to help provide the infrastructure.”
He also mentioned the installation of an earthquake alarm system, which has not been installed in recent years, and the number of seismic devices, which have not increased.
What this shows is that Tehran’s population, who are more than 10 million, are living on a death line, without any facilities and aid if an earthquake occurs.
Zahra Sadr Azam Nouri, Chairman of the Tehran City Council Safety and Crisis Management Committee, also referred to the emergency response bill to the Tehran earthquake as soon as possible and stressed that the Tehran City Council has proposed a plan to require the Tehran Municipality to submit an emergency response bill to the Tehran earthquake. In 2018, it was approved that the Tehran Municipality be obliged to send the bill of the emergency action plan along with its instructions to the council. While complaining she added:
“The bill was introduced to the council last year, but unfortunately no action has been taken to date to revise the bill. In this regard, I would like to remind the Tehran Municipality to review the bill and send it to the Tehran City Council again.”
Another member of the council Ali Atta, while confessing about the lack of financial support for a catastrophe like an earthquake in Tehran, said: “By investing one dollar before the accident, $15 of post-accident damage cost will be avoided, and according to evaluation studies, the most important step is to rehabilitate existing buildings and renovate worn-out areas.”
According to him, even many new buildings do not have sufficient seismic strength and the main reason for the existence of non-seismic strength buildings in Tehran is the improper control system, lack of serious regulations and lack of complete inspection and full supervision of responsible organizations:
“District 22 was supposed to be a model of sustainable development by overcoming tourism activities, but something else happened and now the “Persian Gulf” artificial lake with 130 hectares of water area and 120 hectares of the recreational complex is located above Hamedani Highway, where an earthquake and its impact on the lake can cause flooding of the lower parts of the district.
“Also, more than 3,000 properties are at risk of destruction, not only in earthquakes and massive floods but also during heavy rains. At the same time, special attention should be paid to the danger of high-rise buildings in narrow alleys, garden towers, narrow alleys in the north of Tehran, and dilapidated and old buildings in the city.”
Majid Farahani, Chairman of the Council's Budget & Financial Supervision Committee, highlighting the lack of secure places for the people, said:
“fifty-six crisis support centers and management bases are at the disposal of Tehran Municipality Sports Organization. Meanwhile, despite the task of the working group in March, two years ago, the Sports Organization refused to implement this plan in three six-month periods, and to prepare and submit these crisis supports and management bases.”
On this issue, the State-run FARS news agency wrote: “If an earthquake measuring more than 6.5 on the Richter scale occurs in Tehran, there is no preparation for the needed relief. Tehran's crisis management hangars have not yet been fully equipped. Less than half a percent of Tehran's municipal budget is earmarked for crisis management, which city officials say has not been considered by the government.
“Necessary measures have not been taken to accommodate the citizens during the earthquake with a high magnitude in Tehran, and only 20,000 temporary accommodations have been provided for Tehran, which has a population of more than 8 million, in times of crisis.”
The head of the Tehran Crisis Management Organization told FARS: “The possibility of another earthquake is 50%.” (FARS news agency, 10 May)
Mehdi Zare, an expert at the Seismological Research Institute of the International Institute of Earthquake and Earthquake Engineering, warned: “We don't have more than one mapping station in the west of Tehran; our mapping experts estimate that about 30 stations are needed in Tehran. We currently have about 12 seismic stations in Tehran and about 25 stations around Tehran, while in Istanbul which was like us 20 years ago, today about 400 stations have been set up.” (State-run website Tabnak, 9 May)