Zaqatala Azerbaijan Earthquake

Earthquakes in Zaqatala Azerbaijan (border Georgia and Dagestan) : damage video – tens of houses damaged and at least 23 people slightly injured

Last update: May 7, 2012 at 11:03 pm by By 

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : Mb 5.6
UTC Time : Monday, May 07, 2012 at 04:40:29 UTC
Local time at epicenter : Monday, May 07, 2012 at 09:40:29 AM at epicenter
Depth (Hypocenter) : 23.3 km
Geo-location(s) :
14 km (8 miles) SE of Zaqatala (Zakataly), Azerbaijan
101 km (62 miles) NNE of Ganca (Kirovabad), Azerbaijan
114 km (70 miles) ESE of T’elavi, Georgia
291 km (180 miles) WNW of BAKU, Azerbaijan

Update 18:17 UTC
 : Video from a local TV station showing the damage and interviews with a military responsible inspecting the damaged area and earthquake victims (Language Azerbaijan)

Update 17:34 UTC : 35 minutes ago a new M4.9 moderate aftershock struck the area. This is the 3th strongest today.

Update 17:28 UTC : The authorities have decided to supply tents to the homeless in Zaqatala, probably too late as the night has almost fallen.

Update 17:13 UTC : The damage and destruction are looking to be bigger than previously reported. In Zaqatala, at least 60 houses are seriously damaged. Most of them have collapsed walls. People are too afraid to return to their houses and will probably spend the night in the streets or in the fields.  We have heard no news of tents to give shelter to those living in the damaged houses or those wanting to stay away from their house. Most older buildings in the area are made of brick and are not earthquake resistant which increases the chance of damage or even destruction. For those who are not convinced that the damage is considerable, please take a look at the pictures of this Azerbaijan website.

Update 16:53 UTC : 2 people have been rescued by SAR teams from a seriously damaged  house in Gulbarax, this after the latest strong aftershock. Some injured have been taken for treatment to hospitals, but none of them was seriously injured. The strong aftershock is responsible for damage to some buildings in Zaqatala (Zagatala).

Zagatala, Azerbaijan, very close to the epicenter – image Panoramio

Update 15:20 UTC : Aftershocks are continuing to strike the area. Most of these aftershocks are only felt in the direct area of the epicenter. The weather outlook in the area can be called mixed. Temperatures are 11 (min) to 222 (max), but rain has been forecast for today and tomorrow.

This morning earthquake damage : 3 villages were the hardest hit with many older houses seriously damaged. The 3 villages are all located in the Zagatala area. From earlier reports we know that they are : AzarZayam and Gymyr. Luckily no fatalities though.

Update 15:16 UTC : Azerbaijan media are talking about a M5.3 earthquake with an intensity of MMI 6 to 6.5 (local scale which is comparable with the MMI scale). Both USGS and EMSC are reporting a 5.5 or 5.6 earthquake at a depth of approx. 11 km. Both agencies are locating the epicenter at 10 km from Zagatalaversus 17 km this morning. Reports from our readers living in the greater earthquake area are somewhat conflicting. Some are talking about a short shaking which was considerably weaker than this morning, others are reporting higher “Felt it” values. We reiterate that Zagatala is an important regional city with 18,277 inhabitants.  A gas pipeline is crossing the area.

Update 15:02 UTC : 68,000 people are reported to have experienced a very strong shaking. does not think on many injured or fatalities because most people will have been staying on the streets as the area has been struck by tens of aftershocks since this morning. Potential damage is likely to have happened.
145,000 people will have felt a strong shaking. This mornings earthquake was reported as a max.  MMI VI (strong shaking) versus MMI VII this afternoon. As older houses were already damaged this morning, some unstable walls may have succumbed under the shaking.

Important Update 14:57 UTC : Another powerful earthquake (aftershock) occurred at 14:15 UTC. We are currently collecting more information. This earthquake looks even more dangerous than the first one as the epicenter is closer to Zagatala (preliminary data from USGS).

Example of the destruction during this earthquake – image courtesy APA

Update 13:25 UTC : From the time of the mainshock until this update, the epicenter area has been shaken by at least 80 aftershocks, a lot of them only recorded by instruments and not felt by the population.  The south side of the Caucasus ( including the Zagatala area) is known as a seismically active zone. The last massive earthquake in this area dates from 1936 when a Magnitude 7 earthquake struck the area

Update 10:55 UTC : Azerbaijan news agency APA reports that no problem was detected in the delivery of power, water, gas and communication in Zagatala. Roads in or near Zagatala were not disrupted. The International Bus Terminal told that buses move in direction of Zagatala in accordance with the schedule, no closures of any part of the motor way was recorded so far: ‘No problem is observed in arrival and departure of vehicles’.
Nearly 20 persons arrived at the hospital with different injuries, but none of them were operated or placed at the resuscitation ward. They were given first aid and sent home.
We remind our readers that this report focuses on Zagatala, very close to the epicenter, but not above the epicenter. We will need 4 to 8 hours more for a final update of the direct epicenter area.
More pictures of the damage can be found here.

Update 09:59 UTC :   According to the Seismological Service of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan, the Magnitude of the earthquake was 5.7 at a depth of 11 km. Following the same agency, the epicenter was located at 17 km from Zagatala (below also called Zaqatala). The gas pipeline linking Baku – Tbilisi and Ceyhan have not been affected by the earthquake

Update 09:15 UTC : From the Azerbaijani side of the border, there are reports of destroyed houses and at least 15 people have been treated for injuries so far, mainly due to panic while fleeing the houses. The hardest hit villages at the Azerbaijani side are AzarZayam and Gymyr

Update 09:06 UTC : also fears for damage and possibly injuries in the smaller mountain villages of the area, especially rockfall and landslides. These villages are only visited many hours after the earthquake.  Nobody has reported yet on the conditions right at the epicenter, as this area is populated too! It looks like farming soil with a couple of hundred houses (prevailing the preliminary epicenter location is right)

Update 08:43 UTC :  As we have feared, this earthquake tends to be more dangerous than the numbers would make out.  Local Georgia and Azerbaijani press reports are reporting not only damage in houses and schools (merely cracks) but also injured people. In the meantime aftershocks are terrorizing the local Caucasus population with so far at least 3 aftershocks above M4.

Yellow area : strong shaking) – greenish area : moderate shaking

Update 07:43 UTC : fears that the damage as a result of this earthquake may be bigger than initially expected. In Georgia alone (EMSC and USGS are maintaining the epicenter in Azerbaijan) many houses have slight damage.  We expect more detailed news within 2 to 4 hours.
We will start an in-depth article as the results of this earthquake will be probably beyond the scope of this page.

Update 06:41 UTC :  Russian authorities are reporting a Magnitude of 5.8. The earthquake was also felt in Dagestan . People in the epicenter area have fled on the streets and remain there until further notice out of fear for aftershocks.

Update 05:41 UTC : Following other sources, the epicenter should be at the Georgian side of the border, 1 km from the village of Zemo Kedi and 22 kilometers from the city Dedoplistskaro (Kakheti region). 2 aftershocks are felt so far. The aftershocks are in the 4 to 5 range, enough to frighten the people from the epicenter area even more

Zaqatala epicenter area (Caucasus) – image courtesy Sabit Tagiyev

154,000 people may have experienced a strong shaking, enough to create a damaging earthquake. Similar magnitude earthquakes had few fatalities, but we would not be surprised that damage is inflicted.
Closest communities are Zaqatala (pop. 18,277) and Cinarly (pop. 6,508).
EMSC reports a Magnitude of 5.5 at a depth of 10 km.
296,000 people have experienced a moderate shaking and nearly 3 million people a light shaking.
Cities who have experienced a strong shaking are : Aliabad (9000 people), Zaqatala (18277 people) and Qax (12000 people).
The area where the earthquake happened was a 3-country area. The epicenter is close to Russia andGeorgiaArmenia is at a considerable distance
WAPMERR, an organization specialized in theoretical calculation of possible casualties reports, expects 5 to 40 people to be injured and 0 to 5 people to be killed. WAPMERR’s calculations are based on present and past data.

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