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4.2-magnitude earthquake lightly rattles southern Israel; no damage reported

Tremors felt as far north as Jerusalem, with stronger shake felt by residents of Eilat, Beersheva, Yeruham and the Arava desert

An illustrative photo of sand dunes in the Arava region of southern Israel, near the Red Sea city of Eilat, on August 30, 2019. (Mila Aviv/Flash90)
An illustrative photo of sand dunes in the Arava region of southern Israel, near the Red Sea city of Eilat, on August 30, 2019. (Mila Aviv/Flash90)

A light earthquake shook towns in southern Israel overnight Tuesday-Wednesday, with reverberations felt as far north as Jerusalem.

The earthquake was measured as a 4.2 on the Richter Scale. No injuries or damage were immediately reported

The Geological Survey of Israel placed the earthquake’s epicenter 68 kilometers north of Eilat. The strongest reverberations were felt in the southernmost city, as well as Beersheba, Yeruham and the Arava desert, the government office said.

The last reported earthquake in Israel took place in January. It originated in Cyprus and was measured at a 4.1 on the Richter Scale.

Israel is situated along the Syrian-African rift, a tear in the earth’s crust running the length of the border separating Israel and Jordan, and which is part of the Great Rift Valley, which extends from northern Syria to Mozambique.

The last major earthquake to hit the region was in 1927 — a 6.2-magnitude tremor that killed 500 people and injured 700 more.

In a report published last December, Tel Aviv University researchers warned that a major earthquake, large enough to cause hundreds of fatalities, is expected to hit the country in the coming years.

Researchers estimate the quake will have a 6.5 magnitude on the Richter scale, enough to destroy poorly built buildings, cause damage to stronger ones and be felt hundreds of kilometers away.

The study found an earthquake of that scale occurs in Israel, on average, every 130-150 years, but said there have been occasions when the lull was just a few decades.

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