Sunday, November 27, 2005

Reshuffling Iran

Another earthquake, though this time relatively mild, has hit Iran today. Measuring from 5.9-6.1 on der Richter scale (according to various sources), the quake in southern Iran destroyed 7 villages but amazingly resulted in no more than ten deaths. Iran is officially the most earthquake-ridden and prone country in the world. Following this quake, calls were again made by experts to relocate the capital city of Tehran to another city (which might also help to disperse the brimming population of 12 million residents). Esfahan, the former capital from 1598-1722, has been put forward as a serious contender.

The thing about Iran is not that it lies on so many known fault lines and that epicenters of human life exist on these fault lines but that with thousands of years of earthquake history behind it, the country has still not bothered to impose strict anti-tremor construction codes for all infrastructure. For anyone who's ever entered a building in San Francisco only to be faced with a solid steel diagonal bar blocking the way in 3 parts of the room, you will know what I'm talking about. Requirements like diagonal support structures, especially on older buildings, are simply unheard of in Iran where most buildings are constructed with brick -- the most earthquake-happy building material available, if you don't count a deck of cards.