A little more than two months ago, an earthquake in Mexico City left 369 dead and many of buildings demolished. It had been deadliest and most destructive quake of 2017, but that all changed on Sunday, November 12.
The shaking began late in the evening in Ezgeleh, Iran, but it was felt all across the Middle East, in places as far away as Israel and Turkey. People rushed into the streets as buildings on the Iraq-Iran border collapsed from the force of the quake, which was determined by the Richter Scale to have a magnitude of 7.3. Hundreds were unable to escape and were buried alive as their houses toppled down on them. So far, the death toll exceeds 500, and there are over 7,000 reported individuals injured.
The earthquake left a wave of destruction in its wake. Thousands of families lost everything they own and were forced to seek shelter outside, where debris still had not been cleared. Even those whose homes weren’t destroyed were sleeping in the streets out of fear of aftershocks, some of which exceeded 4.0 on the Richter Scale. And, just when it seemed that the situation couldn’t get worse, the earthquake badly damaged a dam in Northern Iraq’s Diyala River. Engineers are currently working around the clock to repair it before it completely breaks, which would unleash extreme flooding on the already devastated region.
Earthquakes are common in Iran. The country sits right on top of the meeting place of the Arabian plate and the Eurasian plate, which form a faultline and a relatively unstable region. This earthquake was caused when the Eurasian plate’s crust thrust itself up and over the Arabian’s. This can happen fairly often. What made this earthquake so destructive was the position of the hypocenter, or the point under the Earth’s crust where the earthquake begins. The deeper the hypocenter is under the Earth, the less the earthquake will be felt above ground. The hypocenter of this quake was a mere 23.2 kilometers under the surface, making this earthquake incredibly shallow and catastrophic.
However, people throughout the region are banding together to help those in need. The Iranian Red Crescent (their version of the Red Cross) has been going through the rubble all across the affected area, utilizing search dogs to look for people trapped in the debris, aided by the Turkish Red Crescent. Olympic gold medalist and Iran native Kianoush Rostami went as far as to put his gold medal up for auction, with intentions of donating the money he sells it for to the relief efforts. Baghdad is even sending aid to the badly affected Kurdish region, despite the recent violence there over a referendum for independence. The earthquake may have been 2017’s worst, but the people of Iran, Iraq, and the other affected regions refuse to let it break them.
Information for this article came from CNN, ABC, BBC, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.