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Earthquakes in Israel: what magnitude were they and what are the consequences?

Northern areas of Israel were hit by two quakes over the weekend, sparking fears that a major seismic event could have a devastating impact.

Northern areas of Israel were hit by two quakes over the weekend, sparking fears that a major seismic event could have a devastating impact.

Over the weekend two earthquakes were recorded in northern Israel in the space of just a few hours, sparking concern that a major incident could be on its way.

The second quake hit the country at midday on Sunday, around 10 miles southeast of the city of Tiberias. The 3.5-magnitude quake has not yet been linked to any reports of injuries or damage and it is considered a level two ‘Moderate’ earthquake by GNS Science.

Geological activity is far from uncommon in this area and a series of fault lines run along the Red Sea, the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley.

Two earthquakes hit Israel in short succession

The second quake on Sunday followed another one recorded from 11:36pm on Saturday, which struck around 12 miles northeast of Beit She’an on the Israeli border with Jordan. The first earthquake notched up a magnitude of 3.7 and locals report furniture moving around their homes and walls beginning to shake with the force of the quake.

Speaking to The Times of Israel, one Haika resident said: “It went on for a relatively long time. It moved things around in my house… My desk was moving by itself for four or five seconds. The whole house, the bed, the room shook.”

Authorities have reiterated the importance of following earthquake protocols and advised that anyone who fears they are in immediate danger should move to an open space. Those who are unable to leave their buildings should enter a bomb-proof secure room, the stairwell of their building, or shelter in the corner of the room.

If you happen to be outside during a quake, stay clear from buildings, trees and any structures that could fall during the earthquake. Anyone near the coast should stay at least one kilometre away from the water in case of flooding or tsunami.

Earthquakes pose a major threat in Israel

In the aftermath of the two fairly moderate quakes over the weekend a local mayor has outlined the devastating impact that a more serious seismic event could have on the area.

Speaking to local radio station Army Radio, Beit She’an Mayor Jacky Levy revealed that he had been told during a briefing in 2005 that the town sat right on the Syrian-African fault line. The combination of that location and a low standard of building in the town means that thousands of residents could lose their lives unless infrastructure improvements are made.

Mayor Levy said that Beit She-an, which has a population of around 20,000, could suffer 10,000 deaths if a major earthquake was to hit the area. In recent years a significant investment from the central government was supposed to help reinforce buildings in earthquake hotspots but Levy has claimed that none of the money was actually allocated.

“Everyone knows that there is going to be an earthquake but no one is doing anything,” Levy said. “The State of Israel doesn’t know how to handle an earthquake and the number of casualties will be insane.”

“The solution is action and not just talking. We need an immediate budget to reinforced buildings that could collapse.”