Shallow M5.1 earthquake hits near dormant Damavand volcano, Tehran, Iran

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A shallow earthquake registered by the Iranian Seismological Center (IRSC) as M5.1 at a depth of 7 km (4.3 miles) hit the city of Damavand in Tehran, Iran, at 20:18 UTC on May 7, 2020 (00:48 LT on May 8). Both USGS and EMSC reported it as shallow M4.6. At least two people died while around 33 were injured in the ensuing chaos, but no major damage was reported.

According to the IRSC and EMSC, the epicenter was located 7 km (4.3 miles) north of the city of Damavand, while USGS stated 2 km (1.2 miles) west-northwest of the area. There are about 7 153 309 people living within 56.3 km (35 miles) of Tehran Province.

It is worth mentioning that the city is situated near Mount Damavand– a dormant volcano sitting around 70 km (43 miles) northeast of Tehran. Its last known eruption was way back 5 350 BC.

Mount Damavand is the highest peak in Iran and the second-highest volcano in Asia at 5 761 m (18 900 feet). 

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Image credit: TW/SAM, Google

No significant damage was reported. However, the tremor caused panic among residents, which resulted in two deaths and around 33 people injured, local media reported.

The fatalities were a 60-year-old man due to a head injury, and a 21-year-old woman due to a cardiac arrest.

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Image credit: TW/SAM, Google

Many people described the experience as terrible. "I was sleeping [then] suddenly I woke up and felt the earthquake. It was so dangerous because of the old buildings [in the area]," one witness said in a testimonial posted on EMSC.

Another local said he ran to the door as he felt the jolt two times, "the first one was weaker, [while] the second was one stronger and took longer."

"I felt it. [It] scared us, so we had to run away to [the] street," another witness stated.

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Image credit: USGS

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lmage credit: EMSC

Images on social media showed people in the streets of Tehran as they tried to escape from the tremor. 

Several people in Damavand, Gilavand, Boom-e Hen, Roode Hen, Pardis, the metropolis of Tehran, and some other nearby cities spent the night outdoors in fear of stronger aftershocks.

Officials advised them to observe social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As of May 8, coronavirus has infected 104 691 and killed  6 541 in the country.

Iran sits on top of major tectonic plates and is one of the most seismically active nations in the world.

Featured image credit: TW/SAM, Google

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