A strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS and Iran Seismological Center (ISC) as M5.9 hit Iran's East Azarbaijan province at 22:47 UTC on November 7, 2019. The ISC is reporting a depth of 8 km (5 miles). Aftershocks ranging from M4.1 to 4.8 were reported.
The epicenter was located about 38 km (36 miles) NE of Hashtrud (population 16 888), 81 km (50 miles) SW of Ardabil (population 410 0753) and 86 km (53 miles) SSE of Ahar (population 94 348), Iran.
There are 1 760 000 people within 100 km (62 miles).
According to Press TV, the quake caused many people to leave their homes in panic.
East Azarbaijan's crisis management center confirmed major damage to houses and buildings in at least 3 villages near Miyaneh.
At least 5 people were killed, all of them in Varnakesh where up to 500 houses have been damaged, and more than 350 injured.
The number of casualties is expected to continue rising.
The USGS issued an orange alert for shaking-related fatalities. Significant casualties are likely and the disaster is potentially widespread. Past events with this alert level have required a regional or national level response.
A yellow alert was issued for economic losses. Estimated economic losses are less than 1% of GDP of Iran.
Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are adobe block and low-rise nonductile concrete frame with infill construction.
Recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such as landslides that might have contributed to losses.
Estimated population exposure to earthquake shaking
Selected cities exposed
Featured image credit: Google