Earthquake in Iran
This lesson, we’ll learn about an
earthquake in Iran in 2003, and
why it did so much damage.
The day Bam changed forever.
The town of Bam in Iran is an oasis in
the desert, where date palms and
orange trees grow. In 2003, over
100,000 people lived in Bam. And
many tourists came by to see its
famous castle, over 2000 years old.
But on 26th December 2003, Bam
changed forever. At 5.36 in the
morning, while people were still
asleep, an earthquake struck. It
measured 6.5 on the Richter scale. It
left 43,000 people dead and many
thousands homeless. Over 70% of
Bam lay in ruins, including the old
Help floods in
News of the disaster shocked the world. The Iranian army and
local people began the search for survivors. People came from all
over Iran to help. Food, blankets, shelters, medicines, and money
poured in from more than 20 other countries. Oxfam, the Red
Cross, and other aid agencies sent people and equipment.
Sadly, there have been other major earthquakes in this
Why was there so much damage?
Sadly, much of Bam was built from mud
bricks that cracked easily. And many
people could not afford builders, so they
built their own homes – badly. So, when the
earthquake struck, most of the buildings
collapsed, killing people asleep inside.
Grief – and anger
There was much grief in Iran about the
deaths in Bam. There was also anger. ‘We
all know Iran is at risk from earthquakes’
said one man, ‘but we are not ready for
them. We have building rules, but nobody
pays much attention. The government does
not enforce the rules. And they don’t tell us
what to do in earthquakes. They don’t
seem to have a plan.’
1. Where is Iran? Say what continent it is on, and what
countries border it.
2. Look at this photo. Imagine you are one of these two
people. Write a diary entry describing what happened to your
home and family on December 26th 2003, and how you feel
3. Like Iran, the state of California in the USA is at high risk
of earthquakes. Builders there are forced to make buildings-
earthquake-proof. The blue box above tells you about an
earthquake in California.
a. Make a table like the one below.
b. Fill it in for Bam and Northridge
c. From your table, do you agree that
stronger buildings in Bam would have
saved many lives. Give your evidence.
4. Look at the earthquake risk map for Iran, below.
a. Is Bam likely to have more earthquakes?
b. The president of Iran promised that Bam will be rebuilt.
You are an engineer. Write a letter to the president with
advice about rebuilding the town.