The devastating earthquakes that killed more than 2,300 people in Syria and Turkey were clearly felt in Israel, where they shook buildings and sent hundreds fleeing for cover.
The second quake struck around midday when people were in their offices. In the northern city of Haifa, buildings rumbled, sending people rushing outside as they headed for open spaces.
It was also felt in central Israel, especially Tel Aviv with its many high-rise buildings, where the structures swayed, sometimes for several minutes.
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“We were in a meeting. We all felt our chairs moving, it was very stressful,” one resident Yael, told Channel 12.
Moshe Debby, the head of a major PR and communications firm, told Army Radio that the entire high-rise building where he was in Tel Aviv shook, and that it went on for many minutes. “A lamp flew across the room… It was a very unpleasant experience.”
He said everyone in the building rushed downstairs and out.
The first temblor that struck in the middle of the night roused many from their beds.
“Because of high winds outside I thought it was the arrival of winter storm Barbara,” a Haifa resident told the Walla news site, referring to a large storm expected to hit Israel Monday. “It took a few long seconds until I realized that the shaking was inside the house.”
Earthquake os israel. 3:20am pic.twitter.com/jAU4R31MHg
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There were no reports of casualties in Israel, but the quakes prompted several warnings from officials that the country was unprepared should a major quake strike closer to home.
Housing and Construction Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf convened an emergency meeting in his office to go over the ministry’s emergency plan.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry tells residents in the Beit Sha’an area to boil water before drinking as a precaution, as the quake led to an increase in turbidity in the groundwater that is fed into the water system.