Minor tremor rattles Tiberias amid increase in regional seismic activity

Geological Institute says temblor’s epicenter 2 kilometers northwest of city; no immediate reports of damage or injuries

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)

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake was recorded in Israel on Wednesday morning, the Israel Geological Institute said.

The quake’s epicenter was located two kilometers northwest of Tiberias, a city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

“I’m still shaking,” a local resident posted on Facebook. “It’s like a tank passed through the neighborhood.”

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The tremor came amid a significant uptick in seismic activity in Israel and the region at large. Over the course of February, a total of six earthquakes have been registered in the country.

On Monday, a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit the already disaster-struck Turkey-Syrian border region, also rattling Israel.

The head of the government’s earthquake preparedness committee recently warned lawmakers that the main cities were not fully prepared for a major earthquake. A comptroller report found there were 600,000 buildings in the country that do not meet the standard for earthquake resistance.

The National Security Council has reportedly sped up preparations for a strong earthquake in Israel. Over NIS 3 billion have been reportedly allocated to strengthen approximately 40,000 apartments in the most at-risk areas. In addition to this, the government is planning to pass a multi-year plan worth about NIS 50 billion to strengthen hundreds of thousands of apartments and buildings throughout the country.

Israel lies along an active fault line — the Great Rift Valley, or the Syrian African Rift, a tear in the earth’s crust that includes the area of the border separating Israel and Jordan. The last major earthquake to hit the region was in 1927 — a 6.2-magnitude tremor that killed 500 people and injured 700 — and seismologists estimate that such earthquakes occur in this region approximately every 100 years.

Tel Aviv University researchers published a study in 2020 warning that such an earthquake, large enough to cause hundreds of fatalities, will likely hit the country in the coming years.

Last year, a new cutting-edge technology capable of sensing the first sign of an earthquake and quickly sending warnings to the Home Front command was unveiled by Geological Institute. The system comprises 120 sensors, called seismometers, that are buried in the ground at roughly ten-kilometer (six-mile) intervals, mainly along the seismic fault lines of the Dead Sea and the Carmel Fault near Haifa in the north.

Sue Surkes and Danielle Nagler contributed to this report.

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