A huge earthquake has struck Iran, so powerful that it was felt as far away as the Indian capital city New Delhi.
The earthquake, which hit the southeast of the country near the border with Pakistan, has flattened homes and offices. Although the area is sparsely populated, Iran’s Red Crescent charity has said it is facing a “complicated emergency situation,” trying to contact villages in the mountainous region.
There are varying reports of casualties: Iranian state television has denied a high number of deaths, with other sources suggesting the death toll is in the forties, while yet others are claiming it is in the hundreds.
The US Geological Survey said the disaster struck at 05.44 EST (15.14 local time) and the epicentre was 51 miles east of Khash, a city with a population of 160,000.
The quake, which had a magnitude of 7.7, was felt over a large area, including the Gulf cities, which have some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. Temporary evacuations were ordered from some high-rises in Abu Dhabi as a precaution.
This is not the first earthquake in this region of the world in recent times. In 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake killed some 26,000 people when it destroyed much of the city of Bam in Iran. In 2008, a 7.2-magnitude tremor also in Pakistan killed 200-300 people and made an estimated 20,000 homeless.
The region sits on a tectonic plate boundary, meaning that, like San Francisco in California, it is subject to serious earthquake activity.
Today’s earthquake was the second to hit Iran recently. Last week, a 6.3-magnitude tremor was recorded in the southwest of the country, killing an estimated 37 people and injuring 850 more.
1.) Earthquakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates. What other effects can their movement have?
2.) What kind of aid might people at the site of an earthquake need?
3.) What challenges do you think rescue workers will face in this particular situation?
4.) Is there anything we could do in school to help people who have been affected by natural disasters both at home and abroad?