Four quakes in a day

Galilee struck by new earthquakes, rattling northern Israel

Tiberias opens emergency hotline for residents, evacuates 3 apartment buildings as wave of temblors continues

View of neighborhoods in the city of Tiberias on December 17, 2017. (David Cohen/Flash90)
View of neighborhoods in the city of Tiberias on December 17, 2017. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Two minor earthquake were felt in northern Israel on Sunday night, bringing the number of minor temblors to jangle the region to four for the day.

There were no reports of injuries or damages as a result of either quake, the latest in a series of weak tremblers that have put the region on edge amid fears a larger seism could be in the offing.

The first quake, which struck just after 11 p.m., registered a 3.1 on the Richter scale. It was followed about an hour later by a 3.3-magnitude temblor.

The northern city of Tiberias announced late Sunday that it had opened an emergency hotline for residents in light of the wave of earthquakes to hit the area around the Sea of Galilee in the past week.

The city earlier ordered residents to evacuate three apartment buildings in light of the quakes.

The second earthquake of the day was felt shortly before 5 p.m. in the Galilee.

The temblor was centered on the Sea of Galilee, just off the beaches of Tiberias, seismologists at Israel’s Geophysical Institute said, and was measured at 3.9 on the Richter scale. Unlike its 3.0-Richter predecessor earlier in the day, the new quake was felt as far west as Haifa on the Mediterranean coast and on the Golan Heights plateau to the east.

It was the latest earthquake in a week of tremors in the Galilee that has left officials worried that a larger quake might be coming.

The first quake took place early Wednesday morning in the northern Galilee area, measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale. It was felt in the Haifa region and northern Israel and was followed by several aftershocks.

Weak quakes continued to rattle parts of northern Israel early Thursday morning with two minor earthquakes recorded overnight, making a total of four in less than 24 hours.

An early morning quake measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale had its epicenter several kilometers northwest of the Sea of Galilee on Saturday.

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.

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, and the government has begun funding projects for public buildings to be strengthened 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.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced Thursday that a new multi-year plan to protect Israel from earthquakes will be presented to the cabinet this month.

“Last year, we carried out the biggest earthquake exercise in years,” the minister said in a statement.

“We learned many lessons, one of which was the need for a multi-year home front defense plan, especially for the north. This month, we’ll present it to the cabinet and I’m sure we’ll get the green light and budget to get started.”

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