Bam: Iran's Ancient City
Quake destroys historic Silk Road city
A powerful earthquake struck southeastern Iran on December 26, 2003, killing over 43,000 people, injured 20,000, left 60,000 homeless and destroyed much of the city of Bam. The USGS National Earthquake information center is reported a magnitude of 6.6 for the quake, which was located just southwest of the city. About 60 percent of the buildings in Bam were destroyed. The old quarter and a 2,000-year-old citadel (severely damaged by the earthquake) were built primarily of mud brick.
Iran has substantially lowered the death toll in the earthquake that devastated the south-eastern city of Bam last year, cutting the fatalities by more than a third. The head of the State Statistics Centre Abbas Ali Zaali said that 26,271 people died in the quake of magnitude 6.6 that flattened most of the city on December 26, state radio reported. Officials had previously said more than 41,000 people were killed. A big reason for this discrepancy is that some of the dead were counted twice due to the confusion following the quake,. the radio quoted Zaali as saying. Zaali said 525 people were still listed as missing from the quake, and more than 9,000 people were injured.
"The historic quarter of Bam has been completely destroyed and many of our countrymen are underneath the ruins," said Mohammad Ali Karimi, the governor of Kerman province, where Bam, 600 miles south-east of Teheran, is located on the edge of the Lut desert.
A magnitude 6.6 quake struck the southeastern city of Bam on December 26, killing an estimated 43,000 people and destroying a 2,000 year-old fortress near the city.
Iranian authorities ended general search-and-rescue operations on Jan 2, 2004, despite the rescue of a 97-year-old Shahrbanoo Mazandarani after 8 days under the rubbles. On January 8, Thirteen days after being buried underneath earthquake rubble, a 56-year old man was found alive but in poor health in the southeastern Iranian city of Bam, an International Red Crescent spokesman said. Aid workers told Reuters the rescued man had travelled from a nearby village to Bam for medical treatment and was staying with his sister when the earthquake struck.
Relief workers from Iran and more than 60 countries have been trying to help tens of thousands of survivors who are homeless and without basic necessities.
Local people have told reporters that on the afternoon of the 25th of December there were some light tremors in the area but this would not be unusual for the region.
Friday is not a working day in Iran so many people came home for the weekend on the evening of Thursday the 25th of December.
At around 4am on Friday the 26th there was an earthquake, which shook houses. Some people got up and went out into the street but after a short period they returned to their beds. Then at 5.27am the second earthquake struck. It measure 6.6 on the Richter scale and the epicentre was the city of Bam.
Given the level of destruction it is probably safe to assume that the earthquake occurred close to the surface. Buildings collapsed. Roofs and ceilings tend to be made of many layers of bricks to keep the house cool in summer. These collapsed immediately burying tens of thousands of people under tons of rubble.
A moment is all it will take for you long to realize that Bam is an extraordinary historical site. Many of the well-visited historical sites in the world, such as the Acropolis in Athens and the Coliseum in Rome, only give the archaeologist and tourist a limited slice of history. Bam, on the other hand, clearly displayed the imprints of over 2000 years of continuous history. Surrounded by inhospitable deserts and mountains, the Arg-i-Bam seemed to shine out amongst its inhospitable surroundings.
When you strolled through front gates, you came face to face with ancient Bam. Houses, schools, mosques, gymnasiums, and bathhouses stand in the same places they did centuries ago. These structures maintained their allure, and they had the rare ability to give visitors a most inspiring adrenaline rush at first sight. Mud and sand stone buildings held much of their original shape. Little imagination was required in viewing the site and grasping how these people went about their daily lives. The superb archways and narrow dirt paths between apartment blocks, shops, markets and mosques provided the privacy and intrigue that made this historical site Iran's most treasured.
|Major Earthquakes in Iran Since 1976|
|03/21/1977||South West||Bandar Abbas||6.9||167|
|Tue Feb 22, 6:53 AM ET Middle East - AP - By The Associated Press|