Mild Earthquake Felt in Dead Sea Area

A view of Route 90 at the southern Dead Sea. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

An earthquake measuring 3.7 on the Richter scale was reported in the area of the Dead Sea Wednesday. Officials said that the epicenter of the quake was actually in the sea itself. The effects of the quake were felt in several areas, including in hotels on the sea’s shore. No injuries or damage were reported.

Last month, a quake measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale was felt in the Mediterranean Sea, 210 kilometers west of Haifa. Many Israelis reported feeling the effects of that quake, but no injuries or damage were reported in that incident either.

While recent quakes have been mild, scientists agree that the country, sitting atop the Syria-Africa Rift, is due for a “big one” at some point in the future. If and when that happens, it could mean tragedy for Israel, according to Tamir Levy, the chief engineer of the Israel Housing Society, a government-sponsored group that encourages good building practices. “Many buildings in Israel were not constructed for standards to resist earthquakes,” he told Hadashot News. “Most of these buildings were constructed before 1980, and there are many of them in Israel.”

An earthquake centered in Tzfas in 1837, according to geologists, hit at least 6.5 on the Richter scale, who evaluated the earthquake based on reports of the destruction resulting from the event. Thousands were killed in that earthquake, which was felt as far north as Beirut. Tzfas was almost completely destroyed, and there was substantial damage in Teveria and in Arab villages in the Galilee. Another large earthquake centered around Yericho took place in 1927, destroying hundreds of structures and killing at least 300.

Israel has invested a great deal of money in recent years upgrading apartments, offices and factories to be able to withstand earthquakes. The Tama 38 program, specifically designed to upgrade older buildings to meet modern earthquake conditions, has provided hundreds of millions of dollars of funding for the upgrade of thousands of buildings around the country.