2002 Bou'in-Zahra earthquake

2002 Bou'in-Zahra earthquake

title=2002 Bou'in–Zahra earthquake
date= June 22, 2002
origintime = 02:58 UTC (7:28 a.m. Iran Standard Time)
duration = 7 seconds

caption = Star indicates epicenter of the earthquake
magnitude = 6.5 Mw
depth=convert|10|km|mi|6cite web |url=http://neic.usgs.gov/neis/eq_depot/2002/eq_020622/ |title=Magnitude 6.5 Western Iran |accessdate=2008-06-18 |publisher=United States Geological Survey |date=2003-11-13 ]
countries affected = flag|Iran
aftershocks = more than 20
landslide = 59
casualties = 261 dead, 1,500 injured, and 50,000 homeless
The 2002 Bou'in-Zahra earthquake (also known as the 2002 Avaj earthquake or the 2002 Changureh earthquakeref|art5| [a] ) occurred on June 22, 2002 in a region of northwestern Iran which is crossed by several major fault lines. The earthquake's epicenter was near the settlementref|art6| [b] of Bou'in-Zahraref|art7| [c] in Qazvin Province, an area known for destructive earthquakes. Measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale and 6.3 on the Moment magnitude scale, the earthquake killed at least 261 people and injured 1,500 more. Over 20 aftershocks followed the earthquake.

According to the International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology (IIEES), the earthquake was felt as far away as the capital city of Tehran, approximately convert|290|km|mi|0 east of the epicenter, although no damage was reported there. Most houses in the region were single-story masonry buildings, and virtually all of these collapsed. The public became angry due to the slow official response to victims who needed supplies. Residents of the village of Avaj resorted to throwing stones at the car of a government minister.

Background and tectonics

Iran is crossed by several major fault lines, with 90% of it being seismically active and subject to many earthquakes each year; the area around the rupture experiences minor quakes almost daily.cite news |title= Help too late, say quake survivors |url=http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/06/24/iran.anger/index.html |publisher=CNN |date=2002-06-24 |accessdate=2008-06-19] cite news |title= 245 Confirmed Dead In Iran Quake|publisher=CBS News |date=2002-06-24 |url=http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/06/22/world/main513105.shtml|accessdate=2008-06-19] cite web |url=http://mceer.buffalo.edu/research/Reconnaissance/Iran6-22-02/ |title=Preliminary Earthquake Reconnaissance Report on the June 22, 2002 Changureh (Avaj), Iran Earthquake |accessdate=2008-06-26 |publisher=International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology |date=2002-07-19 ] The Bou'in-Zahra earthquake was located in an area of active thrust faulting and folding, parallel and south of the southern edge of the Alborz mountain range, andwas the 11th rupture in the past two months in central Iran.

Earthquakes happen less frequently in the Qazvin Province compared to the Iranian national average. When they do occur, the Arabian plate is pushed northward by the African plate, colliding with the Eurasian plate, giving these earthquakes additional force. This earthquake, having a shallow focus on the Earth's crust, had to adjust to the strain caused by this collision. An inversion of long-period P and SH body-wave seismograms indicated a rupture on a thrust fault that dipped 49 degrees to the southwest and had a centroid depth of roughly convert|10|km|mi|0.cite journal |last=Walker |first=R. T. |coauthors=Bergman, E; Jackson, J; Ghorashi, M; Talebain, M. |year=2005 |title=The 2002 June 22 Changureh (Avaj) earthquake in Qazvin province, northwest Iran: epicentral relocation, source parameters, surface deformation and geomorphology|journal=Geophysical Journal International|volume=160 |pages=707–720 |url=http://bullard.esc.cam.ac.uk/~jackson/pubs/2005_changureh_gji.pdf|format=PDF |accessdate=2008-07-02 |doi=10.1111/j.1365-246X.2005.02516.x |format=PDF] The rupture's mechanism of faulting was reverse.cite journal |last=KhalilAllah |first=Fenghi |coauthors=Shahryar, Solaymani |year=2003 |title=Geometry of Fault Ruptures of the Avaj Region Earthquake|journal=Research Bulletin of Seismology and Earthquake Engineering|volume=5 |issue=4] cite journal |last=KhalilAllah |first=Fenghi |coauthors=Shahryar, Solaymani |year=2003 |title=Seismotectonics and Neotectonics of Changureh Earthquake on June 22, 2002|journal=International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and Seismology]

Multiple-event relocation of the main shock and aftershock epicenters and discontinuous surface ruptures recorded after the earthquake are compatible with a northwest leaning rupture on a southwest-dipping thrust, although maximum recorded displacements were less than what would have been expected from such quakes. This suggests most of the slip did not actually reach the Earth's surface but folded at the surface. Scientists speculate that there is another unknown plate, now dubbed the Abdareh plate. These are known as "blind" faults, and have been responsible for many destructive quakes in Iran and elswhere. This particular landmass is believed to be "growing through a relict Neogene topography". The Qazvin region was hit by an even greater earthquake in 1963, which killed 12,200.cite news |title= Iranians angry at 'slow' quake help |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2060817.stm |publisher=BBC News |date=2002-06-23 |accessdate=2008-06-18 ] In 1990 a rupture killed over 40,000 people, injured 60,000, and left more than 500,000 homeless.

Damage and casualties

The earthquake occurred at 02:58 UTC (7:28 a.m. Iran Standard Time), while many of the estimated 60 million Iranians affected were in their homes. Its duration was seven seconds,cite journal |last=Zare |first=Mehdi |year=2002 |month=September |title=A Seismological Overview on the Changureh (Avaj, Iran) Earthquake of 22 June 2002, Mw=6.3|journal=Observatories and Research Facilities for European Seismology |volume=4 |issue=2 |url=http://www.orfeus-eu.org/Organization/Newsletter/vol4no2/iran.html |accessdate=2008-07-02 ] and the epicenter was near the settlement of Bou'in-Zahracite news |title= Iran buries dead after earthquake |url=http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2002/06/23/iran-quake.htm |publisher=Associated Press |work=USA Today |date=2002-06-23 |accessdate=2008-06-20 ] in the Khar river valley, a mountainous farming region about convert|60|km|mi|0 from the provincial capital of Qazvin.cite news|url=http://www.elpais.com/articulo/internacional/500/muertos/2000/heridos/terremoto/Iran/elpepiint/20020623elpepiint_14/Tes|title=Al menos 500 muertos y 2.000 heridos por un terremoto en Irán|date=2002-06-23|work=El País|language=Spanish|accessdate=2008-08-23] The greatest damage was across an area best known for its seedless grape harvesting, a getaway for wealthy residents of Tehran. At least 261 people were killed, 1,500 injured, and 25,000 left homeless.cite news |title= 'No more survivors' in Iran quake |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2061951.stm |publisher=BBC News |date=2002-06-24 |accessdate=2008-06-18 ] An earlier death toll was reported as 500, but this number was believed to be inflated once it became known that some of the severely injured had been mistaken for dead. Most of the dead were women, children and the elderly,cite news |title= Rescue Teams Continue to Dig in Iran Earthquake Rubble |url=http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2002-06/a-2002-06-24-12-Rescue.cfm |publisher=Voice of America News |date=2002-06-24 |accessdate=2008-06-18 ] as many of the men were working in local vineyards.cite news |title= 222 Dead In Iran Earthquake |publisher=CBS News |url=http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/06/24/world/main513243.shtml?source=search_story|date=2002-06-23 |accessdate=2008-07-02 ] Over 20 aftershocks were recorded, with magnitudes up to 5.1 on the moment magnitude scale. At least three of these caused further casualties and damage,cite news |first=Nazila |last=Fathi |title= Quake in Northern Iran Kills at Least 500 |url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9802E7D7113FF930A15755C0A9649C8B63 |work=The New York Times |date=2002-06-23 |accessdate=2008-06-20 ] most of which were at an epicenter within a convert|25|km|mi|0 radius of the main shock. [cite journal|last=Hosseini|first=S.|coauthors=Suzuki, S.; Fuji, Y.; Sadeghi, H.; Fatemi Aghda, S.|month=December | year=2002|title=Aftershock Observation of the 22 June 2002 Changoureh-Avaj Earthquake (Mw 6.5), NW Iran|journal=American Geophysical Union|url=http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2002AGUFM.S71B1091H |accessdate=2008-08-24]

An estimated 5,000 buildings were damaged beyond repair. In the Qazvin province, 120 buildings were demolished and 50 villages suffered massive damage. In the neighboring Hamadan province, 45 villages were destroyed. A large majority of houses in the region were single-story masonry buildings, and virtually all of these collapsed.cite journal |last=Ramazi |first=Hamidreza |coauthors= Haghani, Reza|year=2006 |month=November |title=The 22 June 2002 Avaj, Iran, Earthquake: A Field Report |journal=Seismological Research Letters |volume=77 |issue=6 |pages=723–730 |url=http://srl.geoscienceworld.org/cgi/content/extract/77/6/723 |accessdate=2008-06-20 |doi=10.1785/gssrl.77.6.723] As non-engineered structures, these could not withstand seismic forces, with structural failure and collapse resulting from wall to wall separation and the lack of structural integrity and of a proper lateral system of resisting.cite journal|last=Eshghi|first=Sassan|coauthors=Zahre, Mehdi; Mahdavifar, Mohammad R|date=2002-06-23|title=The Changureh (Avaj) earthquake of June 22, 2002|journal=Japan Society for Natural Disaster Science|url=http://wwwsoc.nii.ac.jp/jsnds/contents/saigai_report/Changureh20020622.html|accessdate=2008-08-24] Newer structures built in accordance with the Iranian code of practice for seismic-resistant design fared much better. Damage to the historic Kharaqan tomb towers, which were in a good state of preservation before the event, suggests that the earthquake was possibly one of the most powerful in the region for approximately 900 years.

At a station convert|28|km|mi|0 from the epicenter, the maximum horizontal and vertical accelerations were recorded to be roughly 0.5 g and 0.26 g. A bridge collapsed as a result of the disaster. Water and irrigation systems were severely damaged near the epicenter, and water facilities were demolished in nine villages. Many of the main water pipelines in the affected areas were damaged or destroyed, causing inadequacies in water availability and quality.cite web |url=http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/ACOS-64D2J7?OpenDocument |title=Iran: Earthquake in the Qazvin/Hamadan and Zanjan regions Appeal No. 17/02 Final Report |accessdate=2008-06-20 |work=International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies|publisher=ReliefWeb|date=2004-02-19 ] Surface cracks were observed in Abdareh and Changureh, the villages that suffered the heaviest damage, being roughly convert|25|km|mi|0 from the epicenter.

The relatively low levels of damage in the towns of Avaj or Ab-e-Garm in comparison to Changureh and Abdareh suggest a focus of damage to the northwest of the epicenter due to northwest propagation. In Changureh, only two buildings were left standing and over 120 casualties occurred. Abdareh also fared poorly; the disaster destroyed the town's only mosque, toppled 40 homes and killed at least 20 people. North of Avaj, in the village of Esmailabad, survivors recovered 38 corpses, a ninth of the total population, while searching for the missing, feared trapped in the ruins. In another village in the vicinity, Alaibad, two shepherds were the only known survivors. In the small village of Kisse-Jin, roughly 80 corpses were recovered following the rupture. Survivors crying and beating their heads and faces over loved ones were a common sight on Iranian state television.

The cost of the damage was estimated at US$91 million. The quake was felt across a wide area, including the provinces of Qazvin, Gilan, Kurdistan, Zanjan, and Hamedan. Of all these, Qazvin was the most heavily damaged, with an unnamed Qazvin official reporting that 177 had died in the province. It was also felt in the capital of Tehran, roughly convert|290|km|mi|0 east of the epicenter, although no serious damage was reported. However, Iranian journalist Borzou Daragahi reported that in Tehran he saw buildings sway and glass objects shatter.


The Bou'in-Zahra earthquake triggered 59 landslides over an area of about convert|3600|km2|sqmi|0. Landslides formed due to the quake included 47 falls and topples, nine slides, and three lateral spreads. The largest of these slides is a rockslide, 150 × 100 m (490 × 330 ft), which occurred southeast of Changureh. Landslides triggered by the quake occurred more often in the geologic areas most susceptible to damage, where there were many landslides before.cite journal|last=Mahdavifar|first=Mohammad R.|coauthors=Solaymani, Shahryar; Jafari, Mohammad K.|date=2006-02-20|title=Landslides triggered by the Avaj, Iran earthquake of June 22, 2002 |journal=Engineering Geology|url=http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0013795206001104|accessdate=2008-08-24|doi=doi:10.1016/j.enggeo.2006.02.016 ]

Relief efforts and aftermath

The Red Crescent Society sent relief workers, detection dogs, 100 tons of food, 1,000 tents, 2,500 blankets, and mobile kitchens to the earthquake-stricken area. In addition, the Iranian army supplied soldiers, machinery and water trucks. To prevent the spread of disease, villages were sprayed with disinfectants and their inhabitants were given tetanus shots, among other measures. After Iranian officials launced an appeal for assistance, the United Nations Development Programme supplied $50,000.cite news |title= UN team in quake regions says 2,000-4,000 injured |url=http://www.iranmania.com/news/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=10815&NewsKind=CurrentAffairs&ArchiveNews=Yes |publisher=IranMania|date=2002-06-24 |accessdate=2008-06-18 ] The United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) mobilised a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team, deploying five members. [cite news|url=http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=28468&SelectRegion=Central_Asia&SelectCountry=IRAN|title=Relief efforts continue after Saturday’s quake |date=2002-06-24|work=IRIN|accessdate=2008-08-24] Pope John Paul II prayed for the earthquake victims and asked for a "generous" response.

United States President George W. Bush offered aid to Iran, which he had previously called part of an "axis of evil". According to him, "human suffering knows no political boundaries" and he stood "ready to assist the people of Iran as needed and as desired". However, the Iranian government refused his help, though it called for the help of non-governmental agencies.

According to Hossein Rahnema, head of the Red Crescent in Changureh, the society "levelled an area to put up tents but most people wanted to stay next to their houses to look after their property". Survivors instead lit small fires amongst the rubble to protect against freezing temperatures. The Iranian President at the time, Mohammad Khatami, declared three days of mourning and visited earthquake-stricken areas on June 25. [cite news |title= Iranians angry at 'slow' quake help |publisher=BBC News |date=2002-06-23 |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2060817.stm|accessdate=2008-08-21 ] Hospitals struggled to cope with the surplus of patients, discharging non-critical ones from their wards. [cite news|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/jun/23/iran.ameliahill|title=Iranian villages razed as quake kills 400|last=Hill|first=Amelia|date=2002-06-23|work=The Observer|accessdate=2008-08-24] The Associated Press stated that 20 funerals were held on June 23, 2002 at a cemetery overlooking the village of Abdareh. A bank account was started to handle public donations for the families of the dead.

Often armed with no more than shovels and spades, soldiers and civilians dug for bodies in the rubble. Other than this, rescue workes were faced with a number of obstacles, including the temperatures of the villages damaged. They were warm during the day, although the villages grew colder at night, making rescue work harder and threatening the health of the homeless and anyone alive but trapped under the debris. Many civilians were discouraged from helping due to fear of aftershocks. According to Gary Oshea of International Rescue, the volunteers did not have enough technical equipment, and the religious leaders seemed unwilling to contribute much. Official rescue work ended on June 24, 2002, when rescue workers said there were no more survivors.

Public reaction

Of the roughly 80 villages that suffered heavy damage, the Iranian government claimed that relief work was mostly complete. Residents of Changureh, however, complained that tents, food, and medicine had not reached them, after waiting in near-freezing temperatures. A man from Avaj stated that only locals helped uncover the body of his child.cite news |first=Parisa |last=Hafesi |title= Hundreds killed in Iran earthquake|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2002/jun/24/iran.naturaldisasters |publisher=Reuters |work = The Guardian |date=2002-06-24 |accessdate=2008-06-20 ] In protest at Iran's slow response to the tragedy, some 300 people blocked the main road through Avaj. [cite news|url=http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/425822/110607 |title=Stones thrown at quake officials|date=2002-06-24|work=One News|accessdate=2008-08-24] On June 23, "dozens" of Avaj residents threw stones at Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari's car in anger at the government's delay in providing relief. They also claimed that the death toll was higher than official reports said it was.


Electricity was restored to affected areas by June 25.On November 9, 2002, the World Bank granted $22 million towards the reconstruction and economic rehabilitation of the area devastated by the quake.cite news |title= World Bank grants 225 million dollars for Iran's quake-hit areas|url=http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/ACOS-64BFNC?OpenDocument |publisher=Xinhua News Agency |date=2002-11-09 |accessdate=2008-06-20 ] Reconstruction of housing and infrastructure by provincial authorities was interrupted for almost four months (November 2002 – February 2003) due to harsh weather conditions. In August 2003, the reconstruction was completed in all villages affected by the earthquake.


* [a] Several sources call the earthquake the 2002 Changureh or Avaj earthquake, as reports disagree over the relative location of the quake. The official Islamic Republic News Agency report names Bou'in-Zahra the nearest village to the epicenter.
* [b] It is unclear whether Bou'in-Zahra is a districtcite news|url=http://articles.latimes.com/2002/jun/23/world/fg-iran23|title=500 Killed, Thousands Injured in Iran Quake|last=Slackman|first=Michael|date=2002-06-23|work=Los Angeles Times|pages=A1|accessdate=2008-08-22] a town or a city.cite news|url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1398032/500-dead-in-Iranian-earthquake.html|title=500 dead in Iranian earthquake|date=2002-06-22|work=The Telegraph|accessdate=2008-08-22]
* [c] This settlement has sometimes been spelled Bouynzahra,cite news|url=http://www.iranmania.com/news/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=10792&NewsKind=CurrentAffairs|title=IRIB broadcasts first images of quake-affected regions|work=Agence France-Presse|publisher=IranMania|date=2002-06-22|accessdate=2008-08-20] Buin-Zahra, and Buyin Zahra.


External links

*cite web |url=http://www.iiees.ac.ir/english/bank/Avaj/avaj_report.html |title=Report of Surface Faulting and Morphotectonics of "Avaj Region" Earthquake on June 22, 2002 |accessdate=2008-07-17 |last=Shahryar |first=Solaymani |coauthors=KhalilAllah, Feghhi |date= |work=IIES |publisher=

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