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.

FILED UNDER: Science & Technology, World Politics, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. BigFire says:

    The wealth of Iran, like much of the wealth in the Middle East is lock away in the hands of a few Plutocrats. This Forbes article from July documents where the money went, and it isn’t the general public, but a select group of Mullah getting rich.

  2. Matt says:

    Yet more proof to Jonah Goldberg’s theory. The better the toilets are, the lower the casualties will be after a natural disaster.

  3. Dr. Julian Lufa says:

    Yes those WMD countries only know force as a deterent. Sadly this is the basic power configuration of this planet, in as much as I would like to think otherwise. That is the reason why our USA chooses to dominate the world before we become the fodder of someone’s domination aspirations. However this is where I take the other fork in the road. WMD countries? Well we still have not found any in Iraq and it is doubtful they would have used them anyway-considering it would be an act of suicide for them. I mean really, do you think anyone will attack us? Terrorists-yes!! But another country-North Korea for instance has nuclear weapons-wait let us just use one word to explain what happened in Irag-OIL. Yes, OIL is the reason and WMD the spin doctors gruel for the masses to get us scared and maleable. Results: more money for defense and Halliburton and Bechtel and more money for the bankers that fund the horrendous debt that Bush has incurred in our name to make his buddies rich. Yes, money, that is what it is all about. WMDs? THe USA is the leading developer, manufacturer and seller of arms to the world. We sold Hussein chemicals to make the poison gas used in his war against Iran. Well enough said-you see the point. You may not agree but I can’t help feel that this 13 year war with Irag is part of a larger strategy for control of the oil rich area, Middle East as we also have Afganistan in our pocket,albeit a handful. Think in terms of decades. Bushes and Cheneys will come and go as the representatives of the rich and powerful of the world. They will spin tall tales and woo us with promises of safety and patriotism but in the end they get the fillet and we get the burger’s. My advice-don’t fall for it. Demand realistic policies conducive to true self defense, and don’t invade the world. Oh yes if we do, then at least let’s admit it and ask for our share of the spoils, not let it go to fat cats because we believe the malarkey that the USA is ethical-that would make it impossible for us think about that share of the spoils, thus leaving it to the powerful while we believe we did something just. Now off the soap box and back to mhy patients. Peace to you or as Cheney might say, be sure to get your piece.

  4. Way to erect a political soapbox over a tragedy, Julian. Do you do funerals, too?

  5. Paul says:

    looks like content spam to me.

  6. Greyhawk says:

    Something to pause and ponder indeed.

    Along the same lines, we take for granted that we will be adequately warned of impending weather-related disasters, and indeed we are. (Via a combination of a government agency and modern communication infrastructure.)

    Result? A large part of the small handful of hurricane-related deaths in America come from chain saw accidents during after-the-fact clean up.

    Elswehere millions die needlessly every time it rains.