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6 magnitude quake hits under Mediterranean, rattling Israeli coast

No immediate reports of injuries, damage or tsunami warning; epicenter is 37 km underwater, near Crete

Illustrative -- Young children learning to surf at a beach in Tel Aviv, on a hot summer day, July 30, 2018 (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Illustrative -- Young children learning to surf at a beach in Tel Aviv, on a hot summer day, July 30, 2018 (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

An earthquake underneath the eastern Mediterranean Sea close to the island of Crete on Tuesday morning was felt in parts of central Israel and the coastal region.

The United States Geological Survey said the temblor measured 6 on the Richter scale and was at a depth of 37 kilometers. The Geological Survey of Israel said it measured the quake at 5.8.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

There was no tsunami warning issued in the immediate aftermath of the quake.

Residents of the cities of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, Petah Tikva, Givatayim and Holon all reported feeling the tremor. The Reuters news agency said it was also felt in parts of Egypt and Lebanon.

Minor quakes have rattled Israel in recent years as concerns grow about the country’s level of preparedness for a larger quake.

People remove debris of a damaged building after an earthquake quake rattled Mexico City on September 19, 2017, moments after an earthquake drill was held in the capital. (AFP Photo/Alfredo Estrella)

In 2019, an earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale was felt throughout Israel, causing no injuries or damage. In 2018, more than a dozen small but noticeable earthquakes shook northern Israel near the Sea of Galilee. At least four measured higher than 4 on the Richter scale, with some felt as far away as Jerusalem. A similar swarm occurred in 2013.

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. It 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 another 700.

Northern Israel and areas around Jerusalem and the Dead Sea are at high risk of a quake measuring 5 to 5.9 on the Richter scale, according to the World Health Organization, with the central and southern coastal areas and the Negev Desert at medium risk of a quake in the 4 to 4.9 range.

Experts have warned that a large earthquake could strike Israel in the near future, and the government has begun funding projects for buildings to be bolstered against tremors.

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