Four Israel Earthquakes in Past Week Raise Official Concern

Israeli officials expressed concern that a powerful tremor may follow four minor earthquakes in the past week.

“I’m not so worried about the earthquakes that occurred specifically over the past few days. I’m concerned in general about the possibility of a major tremor in Israel,” Avi Shapira, chairman of the inter-ministerial steering committee on earthquake preparedness, said on Army Radio today.

Shapira said past experience suggests that smaller tremors may precede a larger quake, though this wasn’t necessarily always the case. “There is the possibility a large earthquake may be coming,” Shmuel Marco, a geophysicist at Tel Aviv University, said on Army Radio.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met officials today to discuss preparedness for a major earthquake, his office said. The discussion concluded with Netanyahu calling for increased public education and civil exercises. The last major earthquake to strike the region killed more than 300 people when it hit the Dead Sea area in 1927, according to the Geophysical Institute of Israel.

The Syrian-African fault line runs through Israel, and experts have warned that the country isn’t prepared for a major quake. Decades-old buildings are in danger of collapse during a tremor, because safety regulations weren’t in force at the time they were built. Israel has increased spending on reinforcing buildings against earthquakes and educating the public in recent years.

“We aren’t raising the alert level,” Dan Ronen, director of the Home Front Defense Ministry, told Army Radio. “But all the different bodies need to see if they are prepared” for a major quake.

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