Minor earthquake shakes Dead Sea
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Minor earthquake shakes Dead Sea

Temblor said to measure 3.8 on the Richter scale; growing concern over Israeli preparedness

Illustrative image of people floating on the water in the Dead Sea, Israel, on May 27, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative image of people floating on the water in the Dead Sea, Israel, on May 27, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A minor earthquake shook the Dead Sea region Wednesday morning, with the temblor measuring around 3.8 on the Richter scale, Israel’s Geophysical Institute said in a statement.

There were no reports of damage or casualties.

Minor quakes have rattled parts of Israel over the past year, as concerns grow about the country’s level of preparedness for a larger quake.

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 which 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 700 more.

Illustrative image of emergency services and first responders participating in an emergency drill simulating an earthquake at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, June 13, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

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 a large earthquake could strike Israel in the near future. Col. Itzik Bar from the IDF’s Home Front Command last year put expected casualties from a major quake at 7,000 dead and 200,000 homeless.

Last year the state ombudsman said Israel was woefully unprepared for a major earthquake, having failed to implement most of the recommendations outlined in numerous reports.

The report by State Comptroller Yosef Shapira found that an earthquake would cause serious damage to the underwater natural gas pipeline, the fuel lines, the water mains, airports, and general transportation.

Schools, hospitals, tourist sites and public buildings are not equipped to withstand a big quake, Shapira warned.

State comptroller reports reviewing Israel’s earthquake response in 2001, 2004 and 2011 found that no funding had been allocated to reinforce older buildings and other precautionary measures, due to spats between ministries over responsibility for the work.

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