Nearly 800,000 buildings, including some 1,600 schools, would face danger of collapse if an earthquake struck today, Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan said Monday, ringing alarm bells for what he said was a coming calamity.
Speaking at a special committee in the Knesset, Erdan said that the government must immediately work to reinforce buildings throughout the country against earthquakes.
“Currently there are over 800,000 units of Israeli households that do not meet the standard. That means that millions of people are at risk in the event of an earthquake. Among those dangerous buildings are 1,600 schools,” he said.
According to the Education Ministry, there are nearly 4,000 schools in Israel.
Israel has embarked on a campaign in recent years to retrofit buildings, giving developers incentives to earthquake-proof their properties, but Erdan said it was not working well enough.
“Unfortunately I can not say that on the issue of earthquakes the government is doing its job responsibly. The responsibility for this matter is scattered among too many agencies, resulting in a preparation that is not sufficient,” he said.
He warned that an earthquake in the region was imminent.
“The history of earthquakes in Israel shows that a devastating earthquake occurs once every 80 to 90 years. The previous earthquake was about 90 years ago. You can do the math,” he said.
During the discussion, a representative of the Finance Ministry admitted that government agencies did not receive the proper funding needed for the deployment of a nationwide plan to protect from earthquakes. He later accused the Housing Ministry, which he said had received funds, for the lack in readiness.
Earlier this month, a small earthquake was reported in the north of Israel. No damage or injures were reported in the quake, which was measured at 3.5 on the Richter scale.
Last October saw five minor quakes in the same area in the span of a week — all between 3.3 and 3.6 on the Richter scale.
There were no casualties or damage caused in any of those quakes.