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Minor earthquake jars northern Israel, Jordan

No reports of injuries or damage in 3.5-magnitude tremor, latest to be felt in country over past month; Home Front Command says early warning not deployed because no danger

Illustrative: A researcher shows seismograph sensor readings from an earthquake in Mexico, on July 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
Illustrative: A researcher shows seismograph sensor readings from an earthquake in Mexico, on July 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Residents of northern Israel were shaken by a small earthquake Tuesday night, the latest in a string of temblors to hit the area over the past month.

The Geological Survey of Israel’s seismology division said the quake registered a 3.5 magnitude on the Richter scale. The epicenter was 15 kilometers (9.5 miles) northeast of Beit She’an, in the Jordanian border town of Al-Shunah al-Shamalyah.

There were no reports of injuries or damage.

Police said they received dozens of calls following the quake and Hebrew media quoted some Israelis saying they felt furniture shaking.

According to the military’s Home Front Command, an early warning system was not activated because the earthquake did not pose a danger.

The Euro-Mediterranean Seismological Centre said that in addition to Israel, it also received reports of the earthquake from users in Jordan and the Palestinian territories.

The quake came just over a week after the Home Front Command held a large earthquake drill throughout the country, following a rash of several minor earthquakes felt in the country.

On January 11, a large 6.5-magnitude quake hit off the west coast of Cyprus and was felt in nearby Israel, Lebanon and Turkey.

Less than two weeks later, two small earthquakes rattled northern Israel within hours, leading to the evacuation of a school in Afula and the city hall of Beit She’an.

And in early February, another quake off the coast of Cyprus was felt in Israel, in what the Cypriot geological survey department said was an aftershock of the large temblor that occurred off the east Mediterranean island on January 11.

There were no reports of injuries or serious damage in the quakes, but the unusual amount of recent tremors felt in parts of the country has led some residents to believe a larger earthquake was on the way.

Israel lies along an active fault line: the Syrian-African rift, a tear in the earth’s crust that runs the length of the border separating Israel and Jordan. Major earthquakes in the area happen on average once every 80 years, though the last occurred over a century ago.

Geological experts have recently warned that some one million homes in Israel are at risk of collapse in case of an earthquake.

According to other estimates, a major earthquake could cause about 7,000 deaths and 145,000 injuries, with 170,000 people left homeless and 320,000 buildings damaged.

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