A devastating earthquake hit the city of Bam and killed several thousands people. Much of the historic city of Bam was destroyed. Please feel free to share your feelings and thoughts on this tragic event in the comment section.
Big earthquakes have not been uncommon in Iran. Pretty much in every decade, there has been a severe earthquake. Unfortunately, Iran is located on one of the most earthquake-frequent regions of Earth. And the city of Bam, near Kerman, is located in one of the worst places in Iran in terms of seismic activity. Is there anything we can do about it? (see the update)
Recommended: Visit website of International Institute of Earthquake in Iran . They have a lot of maps and data on their site. Also you can watch the movies "Through the Olive Trees" or "Life and Nothing More" directed by Abbas Kiarostami to see what goes on after a devastating earthquake.
Update: To help the victims of this tragedy, National Iranian American Council has listed several ways for sending donations. Among them, Mercy Corps sounds the easiest. You can follow this link to make your donations.
Update II: Pedram at Eyeranian also is recommending Mercy Corps for donations because they have a team on the ground and transfer donations directly to the victims. Also, I found out that Nema Milanina at Iranian Truth is provinding continous updates on the situation (through Jeff Jarvis).
Update III: Ben Wisner in his opinion piece wonders why so many people should die when the knowledge of preventing earthquake exists. This article once again reminds us that the long term solution is changing basic practices in building houses. I am also upset why so many people died in Caspian Sea region in 1990 earthquake and no action was taken afterward to prevent future massive loss of human lives. Just look at the map, Bam/Kerman is in the middle of high seismic activity region. The other points with high seismic activities are Tabas and Rudbar/Manjil, which both had terrible earthquakes in past decades. I do not know much geology, but I have heard and read that you might not be able to say exactly when but you can say where earthquakes are going to happen. Now, experts have been warning about about a massive earthquake in Tehran for several years but neither government nor people care. Solving this needs a prolonged campaign in order to start a crusade (jihad) for protecting lives against earthquakes.
After thinking about this, I also remembered why I am sometimes hesitant to encourage people to donate money: I am afraid this will distract them from paying attention to the systematic solutions. I still donate money myself because I think it has many personal and social benefits but not because I have any illusion that donating is a real solution.
Update IV: Iranian Shargh newspaper reports that 600 foreign rescuers have come to Bam. Americans with 146, Turks with 130, Austrians with 122 and Russians with 120 people are the biggest teams.