Israel felt mild earthquake with its epicenter in Dead Sea region

A mild earthquake early Thursday morning was felt throughout Israel. Its epicenter was in the Dead Sea region. According to the Israel Geophysical Institute, which monitors seismic activity, the tremor struck at 5:39 am. It measured 4.4 on the Richter scale.

The Dead Sea, which is several kilometers inside the part of the sea controlled by Jordan, was the epicenter of the earthquake. According to Army Radio, the earthquake was felt by residents as far north as Haifa.

Experts say that odds are high for Israel to hit by a large earthquake in the near future. The government has already started funding projects for buildings that can withstand tremors.

Many Israeli residents are also facing troubles from sinkholes that are swallowing up cars, cafes, entire buildings, even sewage and power lines.

Avi, a resident of Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem, said Mineral Beach along the Dead Sea was closed in the last half year after some tragedy in the community. Because of water being diverted for agriculture and mining, shrinking of the Dead Sea is taking place at a very rapid rate.

The land is devoured by hundreds of sinkholes as the water recedes. The shoreline once stood on the land.

Mr. Guy Dunenfeld, head engineer for the local council, said: "We are standing in the closed resort of Ein Gedi. It used to be a very live-full (lively) place filled with bungalows and tents for tourists and you can see all around you it's completely gone".

A new road was built by the community to bypass one of the larger sinkholes. However, the solution sought by relocating infrastructure was temporary.

Mr. Dov Litvinoff, mayor of the Tamar region that covers the Southern half of the Dead Sea in Israel, said the problems are very broad in nature and can't be faced alone, so the government must provide support on these issues.