Earthquake near Greek island felt in Israel

No injuries or damage reported in undersea quake measuring 5.4 on Richter scale

Illustrative. The bay of Vai in Crete, Greece. (CC BY, Wikimedia)
Illustrative. The bay of Vai in Crete, Greece. (CC BY, Wikimedia)

An earthquake that jolted the Greek island of Crete was felt in Israel on Wednesday, with no reports of injuries or damage.

The Athens Geodynamic Institute said the undersea quake, 5.4 on the Richter scale, occurred at 8:50 p.m. (1850 GMT) Wednesday east of Crete, 35 kilometers (22 miles) from the island town of Sitia.

Seismologist Emmanuel M. Scordilis of the University of Thessaloniki told The Associated Press that “quakes of this medium range depth usually have weak aftershock activity.”

Earthquakes are common in Italy, Greece and neighboring Turkey with aftershocks often fet in Israel.

Last month, two minor earthquakes struck Israel. The first, on December 2, registering a magnitude of just 3.8 on the Richter scale, struck in the north, with the epicenter some five kilometers north of the Sea of Galilee, near the city of Tiberias, the Geological Survey of Israel said. No damage or injuries were reported.

The second, a week later, was recorded in Eilat. The quake measured 4.4 on the Richter Scale, according to the US Geological Survey, and was centered some eight kilometers (five miles) west of the town of Dahab in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.

At the beginning of November, experts warned a Knesset committee that the country is not prepared for the thousands of deaths and hundreds of billions of shekels in damage that could occur in the event of a major earthquake in the region.

The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s Home-Front Readiness Subcommittee met to discuss Israel’s earthquake readiness, based on an assessment that in the event of such a catastrophe the country could face up to 7,000 casualties and damages of up to NIS 200 billion ($52.5 billion).

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