A sad but all too familiar story:
A strong earthquake leveled much of the historic Iranian city of Bam early Friday, causing deaths that local officials estimated in the thousands.
The temblor struck at 5:30 a.m. (9 p.m. EST Thursday), catching most of the cities’ residents in bed, some in ancient mud-walled structures that in some cases date back 2,000 years. Reports from officials who had surveyed the city of 80,000 said about 60 percent of the houses were destroyed or severely damaged.
Media reports from the city quoted local officials as saying 2,000 bodies had been recovered ten hours after the quake.
The U.S. Geological Survey measured the magnitude of the earthquake at 6.7. Iran’s official media quoted a magnitude of 6.3. Either indicates a “strong” quake, releasing energy equivalent to a 1 megaton hydrogen bomb.
Compare this to a comparable quake earlier in the week in California where only three people were killed. Few things illustrate the wealth and technology chasm between the First and Third Worlds so well–and Iran, by dint of its oil revenues, is richer than most undeveloped states.
Update (0933 CST): Steven Taylor had similar thoughts at about the same time.