The 1978 Tabas earthquake was a huge earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale which struck on September 16, 1978 in central Iran. The death toll was approximately 26,000 and the worst damage was to the town Tabas, which was at the epicentre of the quake and completely flattened. 40 villages within a 30 miles (48 km) radius were damaged. Around 15,000 population were killed, leaving only 4,000 living in the town. All the town's doctors were reported to have died, leaving civilians to treat others. All water and electricity was cut from Tabas, along with phone lines. The nearest accessible place to gain water was the town of Ferdows, a three hour drive away.
The earthquake lasted around three minutes, making it extremely dangerous. Compared to the normal earthquake duration of 10 – 20 seconds, the power of this earthquake is shown. It struck at 19:38 local time. In the aftermath of the quake, bodies were burned where found to prevent the spread of disease.