Deadly Iran Earthquake Shakes Middle East Region

Deadly Iran Earthquake Shakes Middle East RegionIran has been struck by its most powerful earthquake for more than 50 years, with tremors felt across Pakistan, India and the Middle East. The epicentre of the 7.8-magnitude quake was near the south-eastern city of Khash, close to Pakistan. The quake struck deep and in a remote region, apparently limiting casualties. However, more than 30 people were killed in Pakistan.

‘Strong aftershocks’

The Pakistani military has been mobilised to help with rescue efforts, officials said. Two military helicopters carrying medical teams have been sent to the area and troops will support the relief efforts, they said. The border area has since been shaken by several strong aftershocks.

The earthquake struck in the province of Sistan Baluchistan at about 15:14 local time (10:44 GMT), close to the cities of Khash, which has a population of nearly 180,000, and Saravan, where 250,000 people live. The power of the tremor led to offices being evacuated in Karachi, Pakistan, in the Indian capital of Delhi, and in several Gulf cities.


‘180 times stronger’

Iran’s Fars news agency said the depth of the quake had reduced its impact to the size of a magnitude-4.0 tremor on the surface. Iranian scientists said it was the country’s strongest earthquake for more than 50 years. All communications to the region have been cut, and the Red Crescent said it was sending 20 search-and-rescue teams with three helicopters to the area.

Mohammad Wazir, a correspondent for BBC Persian in Pakistan, says the quake was felt in the cities of Karachi and Quetta. Tuesday’s earthquake was about 180 times stronger in energy release than a 6.3-magnitude quake that struck on 10 April near the nuclear plant at Bushehr in south-western Iran. That quake killed at least 37 people and wounded 850.

Scientists say earthquakes in south-eastern Iran are triggered by the clash between the Arabia and Eurasia tectonic plates, the former of which is pushing north at a rate of several centimetres each year.

Have you ever been in the middle of a strong earthquake? Share your most terrifying quake experience with us!

Source: BBC News

Image: National Post

Afghanistan Wants U.S. Special Forces To Leave Province

Afghanistan Wants U.S. Special Forces To Leave ProvinceAfghanistan’s president ordered all U.S. special forces to leave a strategically important eastern province within two weeks because of allegations that Afghans working with them are torturing and abusing other Afghans.

‘Bloody reminder’

Suicide bombers targeted Afghanistan’s intelligence agency and other security forces in four coordinated attacks in the heart of Kabul and outlying areas in a bloody reminder of the insurgency’s reach nearly 12 years into the war.

Presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said the decision to order the American special forces to leave Wardak province was taken during a meeting of the National Security Council because of the alleged actions of Afghans who are considered linked to the U.S. special forces. He said all special forces operations were to cease immediately in the restive province next to Kabul, which is viewed as a gateway to the capital and has been the focus of counterinsurgency efforts in recent years.

‘Murdering innocent people’

The Taliban have staged numerous attacks against U.S.-led coalition forces in the province. In August 2011, insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter, killing 30 American troops, mostly elite Navy SEALs, in Wardak. The crash was the single deadliest loss for U.S. forces in the war. Afghan forces have taken the lead in many such special operations, especially so-called night raids.

A statement the security council issued in English said the armed individuals have allegedly been “harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people.” Ceasing all such operations could have a negative impact on the coalition’s campaign to go after Taliban leaders and commanders, who are usually the target of such operations.

The brazen assaults, which occurred within a three-hour timespan, were the latest to strike Afghan forces, who have suffered higher casualties this year as U.S. and other foreign troops gradually take a back seat and shift responsibility for security to the government.

Do you think making the U.S. special forces leave Wardak is a good idea? Feel free to discuss the possible outcomes of this situation!

Source: Patrick Quinn, Associated Press, Yahoo News

Image: USA Today