I was in my room in the Baghdad Hotel on al-Sadoun street last Sunday evening, writing about the chances for stability in Iraq taking hold, when the walls and floor began to shake. They jerked sideways and up and down several times as if my room was the cabin of boat in a rough sea.
My first confused thought was – this being Baghdad – that there must have been some huge bomb explosion, which would explain the rocking motion of everything around me. But almost simultaneously, I realised that I had not heard the sound of an explosion, so a better explanation was that there was an earthquake, though I had never thought of Baghdad as being in an earthquake zone.
The jerking movements of the walls and floor of my room were so spectacular that I wondered if the building was going to collapse. I looked under the desk where I was sitting, but the space was too small for me to crouch in. I got down on my hands and knees and started to crawl towards the bathroom which is meant to be the safest place in the event of a bomb explosion, and I supposed the same must be true of earthquakes
I had got about half way there when the shaking stopped. The lights were still on which seemed a good sign. I got back on a stool and googled “Baghdad earthquake” on my laptop and read a series of alarmed tweets confirming that was indeed what had just happened.