Beit Shean .
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A large-scale earthquake in Israel is only a matter of time. Whether its
epicenter is at Beit Shean in the Jordan Valley or Haifa on the coast, Israel is
scrambling to bring its preparedness up to speed to prevent as much damage as
Earthquakes in California, for instance, show that building
techniques and sensors can greatly minimize loss of life and damages.
latest step is the approval of the creation of a nationwide advance warning
sensor system. The sensors would be able to detect the first infinitesimal
tremors and provide seconds or even dozens of seconds of warning.
system would be able to detect the center of the earthquake almost immediately,
and monitor the tremors throughout the country during the course of the
The Ministers Committee to Prepare for Earthquakes recently
approved National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau’s (Israel Beiteinu)
proposal to create such a system, the ministry said Tuesday. The decision gives
the committee’s chairman one year to present a detailed plan to create the
An early warning system would help pinpoint shaky buildings,
identify where elevators might be affected, and enable implementation of
procedures to secure hazardous materials. Similar systems are already in place
in the US, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and elsewhere.
According to an initial
readiness survey, the system would cost NIS 20 million to build and another NIS
500,000 per year to maintain. The specific technology is already available in
Israel, the survey also found.
Landau also won approval for another
proposal to budget NIS 100m. over the next five years to the ministries who sit
on the committee. The funds would go toward reinforcing buildings and
installations, threat assessment, first response frameworks, and public
In addition, another NIS 100m. would be divided
among first to respond.
The emergency branch of the Health Ministry would
receive NIS 2.5m. a year, firefighters NIS 4.8m. and the Israel Police NIS
The committee’s annual budget has been between NIS 2.5m. and NIS
4m. a year.
With that much smaller sum, the committee has updated
building codes, expanded the knowledge base about the dangers of earthquakes,
first responder regulations have been drawn up, largescale exercises have been
carried out as well as other activities, the ministry said.
budget was approved by the committee over the objections of the
In April, the ministry updated the preparedness plan for the
Israel has experienced a sizable earthquake every 100 years
and a massive one every 400 years. It has been more than 400 years since Israel
was last seized by a massive quake.
The scenario that planners use is a
major quake of 7.5 on the Richter scale (similar to that which struck Haiti in
January) with its epicenter at Beit Shean.
The Syria-African rift, an
area of seismic activity, runs right through the Jordan Valley.
In such a
quake, the scenario predicts 16,000 dead, 6,000 severely injured, 377,000
displaced, 10,000 buildings destroyed and 20,000 buildings heavily damaged.