Iran to investigate construction in quake zone

Damage to buildings in recent earthquake in Iran (photo: Times Free Press)
 
By David Singh

Geneva, 15 November, 2017 - The collapse of some state-built homes in Sunday’s earthquake in western Iran was evidence of corruption, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a cabinet meeting today, according to state media.

The 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit western Iran as well as northeast Iraq on 12 November 2017, and has claimed over 450 lives and injured close to 7,700 people.

An estimated 445 people have died, while 7,100 have been injured in the Kermanshah Province, in Iran. Mr. Rekawt Hama Rasheed, Health Minister of the Kurdish Regional Government, said seven people have been killed in the Darbandikhan area in Iraq, while the Ministry of Health also confirmed that 535 people have been injured.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the earthquake has left about 70,000 people homeless in Iran, houses and historical buildings have been damaged across eight cities, and 526 villages are severely affected. Iranian officials estimate that approximately 12,000 homes were destroyed while another 15,000 were damaged.

The Iranian Government stated that some of the houses which collapsed were built under an affordable housing scheme initiated in 2011.

“That a house built by ordinary people in the Sarpol-e Zahab region has remained standing while in front of it a government-built building has collapsed is a sign of corruption,” President Rouhani told the cabinet meeting, state media said.

Sarpol-e Zahab is the town hardest hit by Sunday’s earthquake. A picture which is being widely circulated by ordinary Iranians on social media, shows a building in the town with relatively little damage next to a heavily damaged government-constructed building.

President Rouhani said yesterday that “Any shortcomings in Government constructed buildings in the earthquake zone will be punished.”

Mr. Mohammad Hossein Sadeghi, the Prosecutor General in Kermanshah, said today, that the quality of construction of heavily damaged new buildings would be investigated.

Mr. Mohammad-Esmaeil Najjar, Head of the Iranian National Disaster Management Organization (NDMO) and Deputy Interior Minister has constantly highlighted his country’s “poor preparedness for disasters”, while stressing that “More than 80 percent of the regions in Iran are prone to natural disasters”.

According to cases studies submitted to the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction to highlight the successes of the 10-year Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) in 2015, Iran has begun efforts to become more prepared for disasters.

Iran’s health system has developed and institutionalized a metrics system for disaster risk management that provides policymakers with annual qualitative information on indicators. The system has expanded throughout Iran and includes indicators, measurement tools, and protocols for data collection, analysis, reporting, and feedback targeting hospitals, primary healthcare facilities, and households.

The Government of Iran also allocated more than US$4.5 billion between 2006 and 2014 in the renovation and retrofitting of schools, leading to resilient school infrastructure and an increase of students’ life safety from 33% in 2006 up to 67% in 2014.
The Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction 2018, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 3-6 July 2018 The Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction 2018, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 3-6 July 2018.
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