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Minor earthquake rattles southern Israel

Local residents report feeling shaking lasting several seconds; scientists say temblor too small to measure

Israeli students participate in the Turning Point 6 earthquake drill at their school in Jerusalem, October 21, 2012. (Oren Nahshon/Flash90)
Israeli students participate in the Turning Point 6 earthquake drill at their school in Jerusalem, October 21, 2012. (Oren Nahshon/Flash90)

A very small earthquake hit parts of southern Israel a little after 7 a.m. on Friday morning, as local residents of the city of Arad and the Dead Sea area reported experiencing minor tremors.

So small was the temblor, the Geophysical Institute of Israel said, that it could not even be measured on the Richter scale, the Ynet news website reported.

Ynet readers sent the website accounts of the earthquake, saying that the shaking lasted a very short time.

The effects could apparently be felt as far as Jerusalem, some 37 kilometers from the Dead Sea resort of Ein Gedi.

“I was lying in bed and suddenly I felt the whole bed move for several seconds,” said one Jerusalemite. “It wasn’t like a boom, but rather that the bed was drifting.”

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Prior to Friday’s incident, the most recent quake in Israel occurred in July last year, when a tremor measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale was felt throughout the country. That, too, had its epicenter in the Dead Sea area.

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 is part of the Great Rift Valley, which extends from northern Syria to Mozambique.

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

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

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