Iran June 1990


200 km northwest of Tehran

 Magnitude & Depth

7.4M & 19.0 kilometres

 Team Deployment

18 member rescue team

A magnitude 7.4 earthquake occurred in the Gilan Province between the towns of Rudbar and Manjil in northern Iran on Thursday, June 21, 1990, at 12:30 A.M.

The earthquake, the largest ever to be recorded in that part of the Caspian Sea region, may have been amplified by two or more closely spaced earthquakes occurring in rapid succession.

The kit is getting loaded into a lorry for transport

Joint working with another national team. John Holland, Dave Sleeman, and Brian Grou.

Some of the team in camp. Frustration shows as they wait for sites. John Holland, Joe Darrell, Paul Wooster, Jim Reynolds (back), Tom Penman, Harry Leefe, Hugh MacMillan and Bryan Kirby.

The IRC camp. Brian Kirby on Sat Phone.

The IRC camp

A view showing how the hills have collapsed

3 Team members walk towards a site

The event, which was exceptionally close to the surface for this region, was unusually destructive.

Rescue operations were hampered by the fact that the earthquake occurred in the middle of the night, by adverse weather conditions, and by the rugged terrain of the mountain villages.

Roads and highways were blocked by extensive landslides further hampering rescue operations.

About one hundred thousand buildings collapsed or incurred major damage.

On the 21st June 1990 at 1325 IRC were put on stand-by after a report of an earthquake in Iran on the BBC World Service news. IRC put in an offer of help to the Iranian Government and the offer was accepted.

By 0450 IRC were mobilised and were taken by coach to Heathrow airport. At 0625 The team left the UK to travel to Iran via Paris.

A team member uses a SOND (Orbiphone) to search for survivors.

Sunday 23rd June 1990

The team did seven searches of a village called Rudbar.

Team One thought that they had discovered a live child casualty as the search dogs were barking and the sound detection equipment picked up a positive reading. However a further earth tremor interrupted their work and after everything had settled again the team were unable to relocate any life signs.

Team Two discovered four possible places where people could still be alive (chambers in collapsed buildings on the hillside) but at about 1515 (Iran time) a 5.5 M aftershock happened in the middle of one search and the team working on a collapsed roof over the rubble of a building were shaken about and the whole amount of rubble lowered itself by about one foot. No live persons were found and as the team left the site, bodies were being recovered.

Monday 24th June 1990

The team were deployed via Chinook helicopters with the Iranian Army and Monday started with a search of remote village called Harzawheel. The village had a population of 1500: 1000 were dead: 200 injured and 300 were ok.

Two teams were involved from IRC along with two dog teams from the COSI French team. A search of the village was carried out – The whole length of the village was half a mile long and built on the side of a hill. IRC set up a first aid station and assisted with 20 casualties. Injuries included: a gangrenous foot: broken rib: severe bruising: cuts: ear infections: eye dust injuries: measles and skin ailments.

Tuesday 25th June 1990

Three IRC teams carried out a search in south west Manjil – they located and recovered the body of an 18 to 24 month old baby. The body was handed over to the family. The problem here was that both parents of the baby had been killed. A brother was the only living relative and he wanted to find out if the baby was alive or dead.

IRC teams worked in the following areas: Rasht: Caspian Sea areas: Rudbar, Manjil, Lushan, Harzawheel
Villages and settlements in the Rudbar/Manjil areas

The search and rescue phase came to an end on the 26th June 1990

The Team

IRC team members gather for a group photograph following the completion of operations in Iran.

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