On Saturday, August 11, 2012, two powerful earthquakes shook Iran, leaving 306 people dead and over 3000 injured. The first earthquake struck the city of Ahar in East Azerbaijan Province at 6.4 magnitude, and 11 minutes later, another quake measuring 6.3, struck near Varzaghan, 30 miles northeast of Tabriz.
Rescuers rushed to northwestern Iran to save those buried under the rubble of their homes. Injured survivors were sent to hospitals for further treatment while 16,000 people were left homeless.
Because of the thousand casualties, hospitals were overcrowded so hospitals in Tabriz, Ardabil and other nearby cities took in many of the victims. Pouya Hiajain, spokesperson of Red Crescent Society of Iran said that about 133 villages have been damaged but relief is given to the victims as soon as possible. “Also 5,000 tents have been set up, items like food and equipment and blankets have been distributed,” Hiajain added.
According to reports, the worst damage and worst casualties are in rural villages around Ahar, Harees and Varzaghan, near the major city of Tabriz.
In the midst of this dark tragedy the nation is facing, Iranians choose to rise up and help one another. Iran’s health minister, Marzieh Vahid Dastejerdi, said the government had already sent out 48 ambulances and 500 blood bags to the worst affected areas. But with the number of injured victims, people were urged to donate blood at designated centers so there won’t be any threats of blood shortage.
And the people’s response to the call was overwhelmingly positive. The blood transfusion centers in Tehran , Karaj and Qom have been staying open until 2 o’clock in the morning just to accommodate the number of blood donors willing to give a pint. On average, almost 3 thousand Iranians are coming daily to these blood donation centers since the incident and 4350 units of blood have been dispatched, with one fourth coming from Tehran. Thankfully, East Azerbaijan’s blood transfusion center general manager said they have received sufficient blood and the situation is now stable.
Iran is situated in seismic fault lines and is vulnerable to earthquakes. In fact, some 26,000 people were killed by a 6.6 magnitude quake in 2003. In times of tragedies like this, the only thing we can turn to is one another. The recent earthquake in Iran may have shattered homes, lives and dreams, but it has also brought the nation together in unity. The spirit of brotherhood is forever alive among Iranians, especially now that they have shed and shared blood through blood donation.