By Karine Kalantarian
The deadly earthquake that razed the Iranian city of Bam last month could
send powerful aftershocks to neighboring countries, including Armenia, in
the course of this year, a leading Armenian seismologist claimed on Wednesday.
The warning was dismissed, however, by the country's seismic protection
agency which argued that the world has still not developed techniques for
reliable and precise earthquake forecasts.
"The Iranian earthquake will certainly cause new seismic activities in the
entire region," said Sergei Balasanian, the former head of the agency who
now heads the non-governmental Armenian Association of Seismologists. "The
affected area will be quite vast. This earthquake is putting the Caucasus,
Central Asian republics, Pakistan Iraq and Turkey in jeopardy."
"This is the unanimous opinion of seismologists," he added.
The December 26 Iranian disaster killed more than 35,000 people and left
tens of thousands of others homeless, wiping out much of Bam -- one of the
country's famous ancient cities.
Balasanian said he believes that the Bam quake is likely to be followed by
"disastrous" tremors in some of the mentioned areas within the next eleven
months and that the Armenian authorities should already take measures to
alleviate consequences of the possible calamity. He said his prediction is
based on recent years' seismic developments in the entire region, notably
The alarming analysis was seriously questioned by the current head of the
National Service of Seismic Protection, Alvaro Antonian. "I am very
surprised to hear such information. Predicting means knowing when and where
an earthquake will take place and what will be its magnitude," he told
"That is impossible to do at present. There is not a single scientist or
organization that could answer this question in the positive."
Antonian also argued that Bam is too far away from Armenia to have an
immediate seismic impact on the latter. Armenian monitoring stations have
so far not detected any signs of increased underground activity, he said.
The Iranian quake epicenter is located approximately 1,700 kilometers
southeast of the Armenian border.
Armenia had suffered a calamity of similar magnitude in 1988 and is still
rebuilding its northwestern regions devastated by it. More than 25,000 of
their residents lost their lives in the tragedy.