Filed Under:Risk Management, Loss Control

Earthquakes shake Costa Rica, Iran and Iraq, AIR Worldwide reports

Hours before the Costa Rica earthquake, Iran and Iraq were struck by the deadliest earthquake of 2017

Survivors sit in front of buildings damaged by an earthquake, in Sarpol-e-Zahab, western Iran. (Photo: AP Photo/Omid Salehi)
Survivors sit in front of buildings damaged by an earthquake, in Sarpol-e-Zahab, western Iran. (Photo: AP Photo/Omid Salehi)

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake shook the Central Valley of Costa Rica late on Sunday, Nov. 12, causing minor damage in the lightly populated Puntarenas region of the Pacific Coast, according to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide.

The event occurred at a depth of about 12 miles according to the United States Geological Survey, and was followed by at least two aftershocks.

Costa Rica is at significant risk of exposure to earthquakes due to the country’s subduction and volcanic environment. According to AIR, In Costa Rica, the primary construction type for residential buildings is masonry. The choice of masonry is chiefly influenced by wind design considerations, rather than by seismic considerations.

Related: Getting to know international building codes and standards

In view of seismic activity, Costa Rica has put in practice seismic design requirements and has made several amendments to its seismic code. In 1974, Costa Rica became the second Central American country to implement an official modern seismic code. The code was updated in 1986, 2002 and 2010. 

The earthquake was experienced most severely in the provincial districts of Quepos, Parrita, and Garabito. In the resort of Jacó, which has a population of about 10,000 and few tall buildings, at least one structure has been reported evacuated because of apparent damage. Elsewhere, there are reports of fallen walls and of landslides blocking highways, including the road between Jacó and Tárcoles to the north. There are no reports of significant damage to infrastructure.

Deadly earthquake hits Iran and Iraq

Just hours before the Parrita event, the deadliest earthquake of 2017, a massive M7.3 temblor, struck the border region of Iran and Iraq late on Sunday, Nov. 12. The number of casualties in Iraq is not yet clear, but at least 480 have died in Iran and many more have been injured; these numbers are likely to increase as recovery efforts advance.

Iran’s western Kermanshah Province, a rural area in the Zagros Mountains, appears to have experienced the worst impact. Power outages and multiple collapsed buildings are reported. The main hospital in the Iranian town of Sarpol-e Zahab in Kermanshah, for example, was severely damaged according to state television. Reports on social media indicate that shaking was felt as far afield as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.

Related: A dozen images that reveal Mexico's earthquake destruction


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