The Iranian capital of Tehran sits on a notorious seismic zone, and for years now, its residents are intermittently reminded of the potentially calamitous consequences of a large earthquake.
Nobody knows for sure how resistant its building are or whether or not developpers have respected the country's building norms during the construction frenzy of the past 20 years. Most people are convinced however that smaller residential blocks are likely not resistant to a big quake.
Simply put, thousands are expected to die if there were a major earthquake in Tehran. That's the background for a rather particular article Tuesday from reformist daily Aftab-e Yazd, which wrote that the consequences of a major quake might well include people left amid the rubble of their shoddy houses being eaten to death by giant rats.
Rats are numerous in Tehran — few doubt that — but intermittent reports of their increasing size are, well, uncomfortable to read. The daily cited a city pests department official as saying that an earthquake would likely provoke an "explosion" of rats rising overground to feast on the dead and injured.
It also cited local environmentalist Abdolreza Baqeri as saying that the Tehran municipality's "intensified" strategies to curb the population of "aggressive" rats over the past three years had failed to reduce their numbers. Its strategy he said consisted merely of laying out poison and traps, and was considerably less versatile than the "adaptable" rats.
A member of the Tehran city council, Mohammad Haqqani, qualified rat numbers in the report as Tehran's second worst problem after air pollution. Earthquakes, rats, toxic air ... at least Iran is not planning on dotting its fault-ridden territory with nuclear installations — damn, that one too!
— Ahmad Shayegan
Photo: Giant rat in Iran — Jalil via Twitter