Mild earthquake shakes southern towns, villages in Saudi Arabia
August 31, 2011 – JEDDAH – An earthquake measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale shook a number of towns and villages in southern Saudi Arabia early Monday morning, the National Center for Earthquakes and Volcanoes of the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS) announced. It said no loss of lives or properties were reported. Director of the center Hani Zahran said the tremor was probably caused by the eruption of old seismic rifts and cracks buried under the earth to a depth of about 10 km. He said the tremor was part of the geological phenomenon in the region, which is characterized by a 200 km long rift. Zahran said the tremor was felt in Asir, Qunfudah, Baha, Al-Mandaq, Baljourashi, Al-Makhwah and Majardah. Residents of these areas said the tremor, which lasted for about six seconds, shook doors and windows but caused no material damages. They said the Civil Defense centers received a number of reports about the tremor, but their services were not actually required as there were no serious damages. Mild earthquakes are not uncommon in Saudi Arabia, which is within the seismic belt. A number of earth shakes and mild earthquakes were registered before in Umluj, a coastal town 160 km north of Yanbu, Al-Ais and other areas near Madinah. The SGS has established 48 seismic monitoring stations in addition to 16 smaller local stations to monitor earthquakes. All these stations work in close cooperation with Saudi Aramco, which has a center to follow up earthquakes. Earlier this year, the SGS president had said the organization had expanded its activities to monitor earthquakes in the country, especially in coastal areas. Zuhair Nawab, however, allayed fears about aftershocks in the Red Sea. He said the number of quake observation stations in the Kingdom would reach 100. “We have not observed any indication of tremors in the Kingdom’s western coasts,” the SGS chief said, adding that minor seismic movements in the area do not pose any danger to the residents.