For rockets go indoors; for earthquakes, run outside

By Isabelle Fraser, October 25, 2013
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IDF soldiers rescue people caught in the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010

IDF soldiers rescue people caught in the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010

The Israeli Home Front minister, Gilad Erden, has warned that 7,000 people could perish if Israel was hit by a major earthquake.

Speaking to Parliament, Mr Erden added that tens of thousands of citizens could be injured and 200,000 left homeless.

Israel was shaken by six earthquakes over the past week. Five affected the north and one hit Eilat, all measuring between 3 and 3.6 on the Richter scale.

Mr Erden emphasised that his comments were a not reaction to the recent earthquakes, but “rather part of our programme of preparation and response in the event of a [major] earthquake”.

Large earthquakes occur in the region roughly every 100 years. The last one shook the area in 1927, and scientists are concerned that another big quake is due.

Home Front Command has started a new public awareness campaign to instruct Israelis what to do during an earthquake.

After years of being told to go indoors to protect themselves against rocket attacks, in this case Israelis are being directed to run outside.

In a confusing arrangement, Israelis are being instructed to run out of building within a few seconds of a quake starting. Those who are unable to leave so quickly are being told to go where they would in a rocket attack, such as a stairwell or safe room.

Experts argue that Israel is not well prepared for a major quake, as buildings constructed before 1980 are not built to withstand such tremors.

Mr Erden also said that national disaster exercises would be held in the next week to help prepare for an earthquake.

Last updated: 4:48pm, October 25 2013