Monday, January 25, 2016

Earthquake Hits Morocco and Spain

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 degrees on the Richter scale, was recorded in the early hours of Monday off Nador and Al Hoceima in northern Morocco. The epicentre was at a depth of 10 kilometres, 62km NNE of Al Hoceima. The quake was also felt in southern Spain and in the Strait of Gibraltar and as far away as Fez

Damage in Melilla

Several sources ,including Rif24. report the death of of an  8 year old child. There are also reports of five cases of individuals who suffered fractures and some cases of fainting.

The earthquake was also felt in the Spanish occupied town of Melilla in Moroccan territory, causing electrical cuts and structural damage.

Many in Fez were woken by the earthquake, with one Medina resident describing the "rattling of windows" and the smaller jolts of aftershocks. There are no reports of injuries or structural problems.

Rubble in Nador

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) issued a map showing the cities where the tremor was felt. According to the same source, the quake occurred on Monday at 5:03 am local time (GMT). The same source said that five aftershocks have been felt along the Strait of Gibraltar in the following hours: 5.0 at 4:30 local time, 5.3 at 4:34, 4.6 at 5:03, 5.1 at 5:54 and 5.3 at 6:10.

The epicentre of the earthquake was located near the city of Al Hoceima, which was hit in 2004 by a devastating earthquake. The earthquake was also felt in Fez, Morocco’s second most populous city after Casablanca, as well as in Taza.

This earthquake comes few days after another earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 degrees on the Richter scale, was recorded Thursday off Nador, according to a statement from the National Institute of Geophysics, an arm of the National Centre for Scientific and Technical Research (CNRST).

Morocco has had 11 earthquakes in the past 7 days, all in the region of Al Hoceïma.

There has been criticism in Morocco of the lack of coverage of the event on Moroccan TV channels.

Morocco World News reports that well known singer Asmae Lmnawar criticised the lack of coverage.

“I have a question I can’t keep for myself: Don’t Moroccan TV channels know that we need to know what happened? They dealt with this in cold way, and thank God there are other sources of information,” the Moroccan singer said on her official page.

Singer Asmae Lmnawar criticised the lack of coverage

While international media have been reporting on the disaster as it happened and kept updating their audiences with the latest available information, Moroccan media have shown no interest in updating the Moroccan public.

In the absence of a real and professional coverage of the earthquake, most Moroccans turned to Spanish media to obtain first-hand information. Spanish national television showed panicked people on the streets in coastal cities in southern Spain as well as in occupied Melilla.

Television reports showed people surveying cracked building facades, but the regional government of Andalusia, in southern Spain, issued a statement saying that there had been no reports of casualties. The tremors were felt as far inland as Seville, the capital of Andalusia.

Morocco World News was among the first news outlets in the world to report on the earthquake just few minutes after it occurred.

In February 2004, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake near Al Hoceima killed 631 people. The last major earthquake in Spain, in 2011, destroyed much of the town of Lorca, in the southeast, and killed nine people.

A seismic snapshot

The Mediterranean region is seismically active due to the northward convergence (4-10 mm/yr) of the African plate with the Eurasian plate. The movement is between 4 and 10 mm/year along the  complex plate boundary.

In the Mediterranean region there is a written record, several centuries long, documenting pre-instrumental seismicity (pre-20th century). Earthquakes have historically caused widespread damage across central and southern Greece, Cyprus, Sicily, Crete, the Nile Delta, Northern Libya, the Atlas Mountains of North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula. The 1903 8.2 Kythera earthquake and the 1926 7.8 Rhodes earthquakes are the largest instrumentally recorded Mediterranean earthquakes

Between 1939 and 1999 a series of devastating 7+ strike-slip earthquakes propagated westward along the North Anatolian Fault Zone, beginning with the 1939 7.8 Erzincan earthquake on the eastern end of the North Anatolian Fault system. The 1999 7.6  Izmit earthquake, located on the westward end of the fault, struck one of Turkey's most densely populated and industrialised urban areas killing, more than 17,000 people. Although seismicity rates are comparatively low along the northern margin of the African continent, large destructive earthquakes have been recorded and reported from Morocco in the western Mediterranean, to the Dead Sea in the eastern Mediterranean. The 1980 7.3 El Asnam earthquake was one of Africa's largest and most destructive earthquakes within the 20th century.

Large earthquakes throughout the Mediterranean region have also been known to produce significant and damaging tsunamis. One of the more prominent historical earthquakes within the region is the Lisbon earthquake of November 1, 1755, whose magnitude has been estimated from non-instrumental data to be about 8.0.  The earthquake is notable for both a large death toll of approximately 60,000 people and for generating a tsunami that swept up the Portuguese coast inundating coastal villages and Lisbon.

The 7.2 December 28, 1908 Messina earthquake is the deadliest documented European earthquake. The combination of severe ground shaking and a local tsunami caused an estimated 60,000 to 120,000 fatalities.

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