Very strong damaging earthquake in Tajikistan – 6000 people homeless

Last update: May 15, 2012 at 8:13 am by By

Earthquake overview : A strong earthquake occurred at a shallow depth of 4 to 10 km, depending on the source, in Tajikistan.  The local time of occurrence was 04:28.
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Tajikistan-only earthquake list

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Update 15/05 – 07:43 UTC :
- The landslide blocking the important road from the capital to the east of the country, has been cleared from debris. Service personnel from the government did the job together with the local people. 114 families were totally cut off of the outside world (they had no communication neither) during a number of days.
- The local press now talks about 2 fatalities. 1 person was crashed by a collapsing wall and a second person who perished because of a heart attack directly resulting from the earthquake.
- The region is still being hampered by aftershocks.
- Seismologists in Tajikistan have said that Tajikistan has an average of 3000 earthquakes per year, the great majority of them unnoticed by people.


Landslide image courtesy asiaplus

Update 14/05 – 23:05 UTC :
- The important road which connects the central part of the country with the Eastern earthquake damaged part has been destroyed by a landslide over a distance of 150 meter. Experts and service personnel are working to make the road  passable again. The height of the landslide debris covering the road ranges from 4 to 6 meter!
- The BBC Russian news reporting 3 killed people has not been confirmed by any other news source so far.  Local and well informed Russian press is speaking about 1 killed person (also reported by us in the beginning).
- Sources close to the government have a new estimate of people made homeless : 6000!
- Tents have been send and pitched in some areas. Other areas could not be reached yet, making a clear picture of the earthquake devastation very incomplete


Epicenter area - image courtesy Sergey Bulanov

Important Update 10:00 UTC : 3 people have been killed.
Aftershocks are still occurring. Dozens have been injured and 2000 homeless have occurred.
The road connecting the Rasht Valley to the center of the country in several places has been blocked by landslides and rockfalls, hampering rescue work and complicating the delivery of humanitarian aid to affected areas.
Clearing the road will require heavy machinery. There are also no telephone services to the disaster area.
According to local authorities, the victims are in urgent need of medical and humanitarian aid.
The earthquake occurred at 04:30 local time. The epicenter of the shock was located at 152 kilometers southeast of Dushanbe, in the mountain region of Garm. According to the geophysical services, strong tremors were felt throughout the eastern region of the country.

Thousands of people are afraid to return home and try to stay on the street. People who have become homeless overnight, will spend the night in mosques, schools and homes of relatives. According to the deputy chairman of the Tavildara district, the earthquake left homeless villagers in need of tents, food and warm things.
The situation is complicated by the persistence of heavy rainfall and an incomplete damage picture.
Experts estimate the condition of many dwellings in the place of disaster and emergency as unfit for habitation.
“Looks like a blast”

“My family has remained practically on the street. My child was injured. People here are poor and cannot rebuild their homes. This is a tragedy. We spend the night on the street,” – said another local resident of Shokirjon.
The Garm group of districts is one of the poorest regions of the country with the highest percentage of unemployment in Tajikistan. Because of the distance from the center of Tajikistan and the lack of basic foodstuffs and essential commodities the cost is two times higher than in other regions of Tajikistan.
ER Remark : contrary to what is mentioned in this report, the current weather is OK. The heavy rainfall with floods as a consequence was from a couple of days ago.

Important Update 09:30 UTC : The Committee of Emergency Situations and Civil Defense of Tajikistan, by means of Mr. Nurov Nargis, has reported that 1 person, Mr. Tandovchi Jamoat, has been killed when a wall collapsed.
- The same agency reports that several houses have collapsed by the 7 intensity quake (epicenter).
- A landslide has further destroyed 2 houses and their ancillary buildings in the village of Kalai Surkh Jamoat Langaral Rasht. (source News.tj)
We will certainly receive more reports later today as this is an intermediate report.

Video : The “tripadvisor video” (in fact a series of pictures) below gives a better idea of the road which is mentioned in the above updates and 1 image of a village in the Tavildara district, the location of the epicenter. Sorry for the pictures from the snow leopard, but we cannot cut parts out of this video as we want to respect the copyright of the owner. The pictures are showing a rug landscape. The only villages shown at the end is build against the mountain slope. You will not need a lot of imagination to be convinced that a landslide can make huge damage.

Update 07:50 UTC :  While trying to find news from within Tajikistan, we could read that the Prime Minister has been visiting Kulob in the South of the country, where a couple of days ago, floods have destroyed a lot of houses, a lot of damage, but no fatalities.  Kulob is a city in the South-West of the country. The earthquake’s epicenter in the South-East.  A lot of rain in combination with earthquake shaking is a dangerous cocktail. The current weather in the area is fine. temperatures from 9 (min.) to 22 (Max.).

Update 07:21 UTC :  It is currently 12:21 in Tajikistan.  We are confident that eventual serious damage news may have reached the capital of Dushanbe in the meantime.  As the proverb says : no news = good news. Let us hope that the proverb is true.

Update 07:19 UTC :  Kyrgyzstan seismological sources are reporting that the intensity of the earthquake in the epicenter area was felt as 7.5 (on a scale of 0 to 12 – the scale is more or less similar than MMI). At the Kyrgyzstan side of the border intensity was 3.5.

Update 07:00 UTC :  So far we could not retrieve any added value info from inside Tajikistan. We haven’t found any damage or injuries which is a very good sign. Most reports are mentioning 1/10th of our report and are writing about a “moderate  earthquake”.  Specialized earthquake followers know that a shallow M5.7 earthquake from Turkey to China is in average not a “moderate ” earthquake but can be very dangerous .  In terms of Earthquake-Report.com, we are only convinced of the happy ending when we read direct news from de epicenter or from specialized emergency personnel. We call upon our Tajik readers to share their information with the ER readers.

Update 01:22 UTC Historic earthquakes in Tajikistan.
37 damaging earthquakes have been recorded so far within 100km of the present epicenter.

- 1934 and 1935 – damaging quakes quite close – about 20km away with damage in Tajikistan, province of Tovildera.
- 1949 – the magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck around 40km away in Khait, killing around 12000 people (7200-28000), nearly all due to landslides.
- 1983 – saw lots of damage in the Garm region from a M5.3 quake.
- In 2007, about 20km away 12 people were killed from a M5.2 quake
– Three people killed in the Rasht region and nine killed in a related landslide in the Asht region. Felt at Dushanbe.
(CATDAT James Daniell information).

Update 01:02 UTC :  The epicenter area has an altitude of 2000 meters. The mountains in the greater area are more than 4000 meter high? We have printed a picture of the important valley where also  the M 41 highway passes.  The picture shows the kind of terrain where the earthquake occurred.

Focal Mechanism of this earthquake - Image courtesy USGS

Update 00:19 UTC :  WAPMERR, the theoretical earthquake damage calculation engine just reported that they are expecting 200 to 900 people to be injured and 30 to 200 fatalities.  The WAPMERR data are based on historical earthquakes in the area and on the reported USGS data (M5.7 at a depth of 10 km).
WAPMERR refers to 8000 people experiencing a MMI VIII severe shaking, 5000 people a very strong shaking, 15000 people a strong shaking and 135000 people a moderate MMI V shaking.

Update 00:19 UTC :  We do not expect to find a lot of news before 10 AM local time (about 5 hours from now) because of the remote mountainous area.

Update 00:19 UTC :  EMSC has further decreased the Magnitude from Mb6.0 to Mb5.7, a whole lot of difference. EMSC keeps his focal depth at 4 km which is extremely shallow. Because of the depth parameter, we maintain our opinion and continue to call this earthquake dangerous.

Update 00:12 UTC :
Less than 1000 people are living in a radius of 5 km from the epicenter
4,200 people are living within a radius if 10 km
11,000 people within a radius of 20 km.
Earthquake-Report.com calls a radius of 20 km at high risk for at least minor damage or minor injuries

Update 00:08 UTC : The nearest populated places are: Kalay-Khodzha (16km), Talbar (7km), Yezgan (7km), Tavildara (13km), Chil-Dara (17km). The closest civilian airport is Darwaz (46km).

Update 23:59 UTC : Based on the current data, Earthquake-Report.com calls this earthquake “dangerous” for the villages in the immediate vicinity of the epicenter. Especially the building style is very vulnerable.  An increasing danger factor is the fact that the earthquake occurred in the middle of the Tajik night!

Update 23:56 UTC : Following our own research Tavildara, a village with approx. 500 inhabitants is at a distance of 10 km from the epicenter. Ezgand another village is also very close to the epicenter

Shaking map of the area - courtesy USGS - Yellow color indicates the strong shaking area

Update 23:56 UTC : EMSC has changed depth again to 4 km (extremely shallow)

Update 23:50 UTC : EMSC has decreased the Magnitude to Mb6.0 at the new depth of  40 km. Data from USGS and EMSC are too different to be convincing.

Update 23:48 UTC : USGS reports a far lower Magnitude of 5.7 but at a depth of only 10 km.

Update 23:46 UTC : the epicenter seems to be located in the middle of the mountains apparently with very few villages.  We will search for more details.

An ER reader in Dushanbe (147 km from the epicenter) reported a moderate shaking.

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : 6.3 5.7 (EMSC)
UTC Time : 23:28:46.0 UTC
Local time at epicenter :  local time 04:28
Depth (Hypocenter) : 30 km 4 km (EMSC)
Geo-location(s) :
55 km NE Leningradskiy (pop 11,955)
147 km E Dushanbe (pop 543,107)

Links to important maps
USGS Did You Feel It Map
Google satellite map showing the epicenter and the surrounding area
Historic earthquakes map
Seismic hazard map
Shaking map
Scientific parameters
Human impact map
GDACS earthquake report

Click here for examples of our “earthquake notifications (button below)”

SRC Location UTC Date/time M D INFO
EMSC Tajikistan May 12 23:28 5.7 4 MAP I Felt It
  • Dushanbe Tajikistan - @ 4:27am moderate shaking felt in Dushanbe
  • Dushanbe - Moderate shaking indicated
  • Chkalovsk, Tajikistan - Moderate shaking reported (ER: Chkalovsk is 185 km from the epicenter)
  • Dushanbe - I was amazed at the regularity of the trembling, felt like sitting in a comfortable car going over a bad road (source EMSC)
  • USGS Tajikistan May 12 23:28 5.7 10 MAP I Felt It
  • Dushanbe, Tajikistan - The shaking woke me up. As a native Californian I immediately recognized the rumbling and shaking as that of an earthquake. It only lasted for several seconds. Local news reported one death outside the city, 50 houses destroyed, and 50 houses damaged.
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    Country where you felt the earthquake
    City/Village where you felt the earthquake
    Street or suburb (area) where you felt the earthquake
    MMI II (Very weak shaking) ?
    People :
    Felt by persons at rest, on upper floors or favorably placed.
    MMI III (Weak shaking) ?
    People :
    Felt indoors; hanging objects may swing, vibration similar to passing of light trucks, duration may be estimated, may not be recognized as an earthquake.
    MMI IV (Light shaking) ?
    People :
    Generally noticed indoors but not outside. Light sleepers may be awakened. Vibration may be likened to the passing of heavy traffic, or to the jolt of a heavy object falling or striking the building.
    Fittings :
    Doors and windows rattle. Glassware and crockery rattle. Liquids in open vessels may be slightly disturbed. Standing motorcars may rock.
    Structures :
    Walls and frames of buildings, and partitions and suspended ceilings in commercial buildings, may be heard to creak.
    MMI V (Moderate shaking) ?
    People :
    Generally felt outside, and by almost everyone indoors. Most sleepers awakened. A few people alarmed.
    Fittings :
    Small unstable objects are displaced or upset. Some glassware and crockery may be broken. Hanging pictures knock against the wall. Open doors may swing. Cupboard doors secured by magnetic catches may open. Pendulum clocks stop, start, or change rate.
    Structures :
    Some large display windows cracked. A few earthenware toilet fixtures cracked.
    MMI VI (Strong shaking) ?
    People Felt by all. People and animals alarmed. Many run outside. Difficulty experienced in walking steadily.
    Fittings :
    Objects fall from shelves. Pictures fall from walls. Some furniture moved on smooth floors, some unsecured free-standing fireplaces moved. Glassware and crockery broken. Very unstable furniture overturned. Small church and school bells ring. Appliances move on bench or table tops. Filing cabinets or "easy glide" drawers may open (or shut).
    Structures :
    Slight damage to buildings with low standard. Some stucco or cement plaster falls. Large display windows broken. Damage to a few weak domestic chimneys, some may fall.
    Environment :
    Trees and bushes shake, or are heard to rustle. Loose material may be dislodged from sloping ground, e.g. existing slides, talus slopes, shingle slides.
    MMI VII (Very strong shaking) ?
    People
    General alarm. Difficulty experienced in standing. Noticed by motorcar drivers who may stop.
    Fittings :
    Large bells ring. Furniture moves on smooth floors, may move on carpeted floors. Substantial damage to fragile contents of buildings.
    Structures :
    Unreinforced stone and brick walls cracked. Low standard buildings cracked with some minor masonry falls. A few instances of damage to buildings of ordinary workmanship. Unbraced parapets, unbraced brick gables, and architectural ornaments fall. Roofing tiles, especially ridge tiles may be dislodged. Many unreinforced domestic chimneys damaged, often falling from roof-line. Water tanks Type I burst. A few instances of damage to brick veneers and plaster or cement-based linings. Unrestrained water cylinders (hot-water cylinders) may move and leak. Some common windows cracked. Suspended ceilings damaged.
    Environment :
    Water made turbid by stirred up mud. Small slides such as falls of sand and gravel banks, and small rock-falls from steep slopes and cuttings. Instances of settlement of unconsolidated or wet, or weak soils. Some fine cracks appear in sloping ground. A few instances of liquefaction (i.e. small water and sand ejections).
    MMI VIII (Severe shaking) ?
    People Alarm may approach panic. Steering of motorcars greatly affected. Structures : Low standard buildings heavily damaged, some collapse. ordinary workmanship buildings damaged, some with partial collapse. Reinforced masonry or concrete buildings damaged in some cases. A few instances of damage to buildings and bridges designed and built to resist earthquakes. Monuments and pre-1976 elevated tanks and factory stacks twisted or brought down. Some pre-1965 infill masonry panels damaged. A few post-1980 brick veneers damaged. Decayed timber piles of houses damaged. Houses not secured to foundations may move. Most unreinforced domestic chimneys damaged, some below roof-line, many brought down. Environment : Cracks appear on steep slopes and in wet ground. Small to moderate slides in roadside cuttings and unsupported excavations. Small water and sand ejections and localized lateral spreading adjacent to streams, canals, lakes, etc.
    MMI IX (Violent shaking) ?
    Structures Many low standard buildings destroyed. Ordinary workmanship buildings heavily damaged, some collapse. Reinforced masonry or concrete buildings damaged, some with partial collapse. Buildings and bridges designed and built to resist earthquakes damaged in some cases, some with flexible frames seriously damaged. Damage or permanent distortion to some buildings and bridges, designed and built to normal use standards. Houses not secured to foundations shifted off. Brick veneers fall and expose frames. Environment : Cracking of ground conspicuous. Landsliding general on steep slopes. Liquefaction effects intensified and more widespread, with large lateral spreading and flow sliding adjacent to streams, canals, lakes, etc.
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