Saturday, December 27, 2003

The day after the Apocaplypse
I had a long blog I was working on, but it will have to wait. People here are stunned by the earthquake in Bam. Yesterday, I was visiting K's family in Western Iran. Around 7 pm we saw a 2-minute news clip about the earthquake, but we could not quite understand what happened. There was no follow-up, we had no internet connection, and no satellite. "If this were American tv," I told everyone, "we would not be watching anything else. We would see this news over and over and over again."

When I got off the plane and got in a car to head home, the man driving the car said that Al Jazeera reported that 40,000 people had been killed. I thought that this must be an exaggeration. Similar numbers were reported after the earthquake in Turkey that ended up killing 10,000 people (still a lot!), I told the people riding with us.

When I got home, I immediately logged on to the internet, read that 5000 people had been killed and was relieved that the number was not higher. It seems, however, that the number is much higher and may even be as high as Al Jazeera originally reported.

Even worse news is that this is not an isolated tragedy. Half of the population of the city of Bam is probably dead, and there are no real earthquake construction standards in Iran. I am willing to bet that a good many of California's civil engineers have Iranian backgrounds. Maybe Iran should consider getting some of them over here to address some civil engineering issues. What happens when a similar earthquake happens in Tehran?

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