Iran: Earthquake Footsteps Being Heard in Tehran – 200,000 Buildings Likely to Be Collapsed
NCRI - Following the earthquake in Kermanshah, the nightmare of a similar incident in Tehran with its 13 million population and dilapidated and unsafe urban areas has caused experts to come out with repeated warnings.
With a high population and density, Tehran province and the city of Tehran in particular are among the world’s most densely populated areas; a density that has sacrificed many safety measures in houses built over the past few decades. The situation is so critical that well-informed housing experts and geologists are constantly warning over lack of safety measures in mass housing projects and the threats any possible incident could bring about.
Recent earthquake in Kermanshah has raised concerns about a similar incident in Tehran and the possible scenario in case one really happens, particularly considering the fact that the housing construction safety standards practiced in recent years broke down after Kermanshah earthquake.
The nightmare of an earthquake in the capital has made many Iranians anxious. The question whether Kermanshah earthquake has activated Tehran’s fault lines or not, or what will happen if an earthquake as powerful as the one in Kermanshah hits Tehran are the kinds of questions raised in minds of different groups of people.
One of the reasons behind huge damages in Sarpol-e Zahab was buildings’ non-resistance to earthquake. Meanwhile, numerous mass housing projects are underway around Tehran, with the new cities of Parand and Pardis considered as the two biggest Mehr Housing Projects in Tehran province.
In an interview with state-run Mehr news agency, a university professor says that Tehran’s major fault lines are active, adding “there are plenty of fault lines in Tehran and we should be prepared for an earthquake in the area as its footsteps are being heard.”
Collapse of buildings alone will cause nearly one million casualties in a possible earthquake in Tehran.
As experts say, Kermanshah earthquake has not affected Tehran’s fault lines. But according to head of Tehran City Council, the city has experienced a magnitude 7 earthquake every 150 years, with the last one being 185 years ago.
Pointing out that as Iran’s capital, Tehran suffers from such issues like dilapidated urban areas and high population, Mohsen Hashemi then added “non-compliance with safety measures and non-standard buildings are not going to put Tehran in a proper position in terms of stability.”
Meanwhile, secretary of regime’s National Earthquake Workgroup has said in an interview “if an earthquake as powerful as the one in Kermanshah hits Tehran, 200,000 buildings will totally collapse. This will definitely lead to one million casualties, a real disaster indeed.”
“The estimated one million casualties in Tehran’s possible magnitude 7 earthquake would only be due to collapse of buildings, and the figure could go even higher if secondary threats like explosions are taken into account”, Ali Beitollahi added.
Beitollahi pointed to gas explosions as one of the most serious threats following an earthquake in Tehran, saying “Shaharan district will be seriously hit as it’s accommodating numerous gas tanks.”
Tehran Province’s Director of Crisis, as the official directly responsible for the province’s crisis management, said in an interview with state-run Mehr news agency “if, god forbid, an earthquake hits Tehran, you can be sure that the number of casualties is more than what you think.”
Meanwhile, a crisis management expert in southern Tehran says “Tehran refinery is one of the places that will turn into a threatening factor should a higher than magnitude 7 earthquake hits the city. The refinery’s oil pipeline transfers 250,000 barrels of crude oil every day from storage places in Aghajari to the refinery’s location. If an earthquake is followed by pipelines’ rupture and subsequent fire, southern Tehran will definitely be the first victim. This is while the pipelines would probably rupture with the least tremors as they are too old and large parts of it are in disrepair.”
“There are lots of fuel tanks in southern Tehran that are old and possibly not in working conditions. So, in critical situations like the one following an earthquake, these tanks will be a huge challenge for Baghershahr and Shahr-e-Ray”, Siavash Ataee added.
The level of strength along with relief and safety infrastructures of densely populated buildings in Tehran and its surroundings, like the ones built by two mass housing companies in Parand and Pardis, is another important question that needs to be answered.
Parand’s fire station lacks the least firefighting equipments. So much so that one of Parand’s residents told state-run Mehr news agency “if an incident happens in one of Parand’s building, lack of firefighting equipments won’t allow for relief operation and saving people’s lives even in third or fourth floors, let alone the upper ones. We lack even the least healthcare infrastructure in the city. “
According to state-run Merh news agency on November 21, 2017 “as one of the country’s biggest mass housing projects, 80,000 Mehr buildings are supposed to be built in the city of Pardis. But it’s a pity that there’s no proper infrastructure for the time of crisis. And it seems that directors of Parand and Pardis construction companies are only after setting up popular interviews and making empty promises. After all, how could you expect these projects to address crisis management while they lack parks, proper lighting, and in some cases even water and electricity?