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5.1-degree tremor, four milder aftershocks shake Aqaba

By Hana Namrouqa - May 17,2016 - Last updated at May 17,2016

AMMAN — An earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, followed by four aftershocks struck the southern city of Aqaba on Monday morning, according to the Jordan Seismological Observatory (JSO).

No causalities or damages were reported, but the earthquake caused panic when people woke up to trembling furniture in the seaside city, located 330km south of the capital.

JSO Director Mahmoud Qaryouti said the main earthquake’s epicentre was 66 kilometres to the south of Aqaba at 4:46am on Monday, at a depth of 13km.

“City residents felt the earthquake, but no damages were recorded,” Qaryouti told The Jordan Times over the phone.

Four aftershocks followed, according to Qaryouti. The first one, which hit at 5:20am, measured 2.5 degrees on the Richter scale, while the second struck the area at 6:24am, measuring 3.5 degrees and the third was recorded at 6:59am measuring 1.4 degrees. The fourth quake was recorded at 7:11am and measured 2.5 on the Richter scale.

Two of the aftershocks hit north of Aqaba, while the other two hit its northwestern part, according to the official.

He said that earthquakes measuring below 5.5 on the Richter scale are classified as moderate to light, highlighting that since the start of the year, the port city has witnessed 10 earthquakes, which were often unfelt but recorded by the seismograph.

“These earthquakes happen because Jordan lies along the seismically active Dead Sea Transform Fault, which stretches from the Gulf of Aqaba, Wadi Araba, the Dead Sea, Jordan Valley, Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley and north of Syria up to the south of Turkey,” the seismologist said.

Jafar Omar, a resident of Aqaba city, said that although the earthquake happened at dawn when everyone was asleep, many of his neighbours and colleagues felt it.

“I woke up panicked to my bed shaking. The house and all of the furniture and cabins were trembling. It took about three seconds or a bit more before it ended,” Omari told The Jordan Times.

During the last few months, southern regions have witnessed several earthquakes. An earthquake with a magnitude of 3.9 on the Richter scale hit Lisan in the Dead Sea area in mid April, preceded by a 3.1-degree quake that hit the same area.
Earlier in February, an earthquake hit Wadi Araba area and measured 4 degrees on the Richter scale, while in August last year, an earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale was registered in Aqaba, at around 5:15am, but no damages or casualties were recorded.
Aqaba was hit by a strong earthquake in November 22, 1995, with a magnitude of 7.3 degrees on the Richter scale, while another 5.2-magnitude earthquake took place in March 11, 2004, east of the Dead Sea and was felt by people all over the Kingdom.

 

According to the JSO records, the last destructive earthquake to hit the Kingdom was in 1927.
About 300 people were killed in that quake, which hit Jerusalem and nearby Jericho.
A similar quake in 1837, measuring 7 on the Richter scale, and with an epicentre in the Hula Valley, devastated the town of Safad in Palestine and killed some 4,000 people.

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