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Experts warn earthquake alert system -TRUAA- is not enough

Jerusalem4 – An Israeli media campaign, carried out by the National Emergency Authority, the Home Front Command, and the Geological Institute, in recent weeks, has been promoting the “TRUAA” system, which warns of earthquakes via a short alarm and is operational now. This campaign comes in the wake of the recent recurrence of earthquakes in Israel, neighboring countries, and the Mediterranean.

However, according to a report issued by the National Security Research Institute at Tel Aviv University, last Thursday, the capabilities of this system are very minimal and very limited. The report pointed out the fact that scientists do not have the ability to predict in advance an earthquake. Therefore, there is no possibility to announce its occurrence before long enough to prevent it and to warn people who could be affected by it and ask them to leave buildings and open areas.

The report pointed out that it is not possible to prevent damage to buildings, property, and infrastructure in the event of a severe earthquake. But there is a possibility to save lives with the help of advance warning, based on the fact that from the moment the earthquake occurs until the seismic wave reaches inhabited areas, it takes a few seconds, which may be enough to carry out immediate rescue operations, such as evacuating part of the population from buildings that will be damaged.

According to the report, when an earthquake occurs, seismic waves of different types are produced, two of which are related to the warning. The fastest and first wave that reaches the residential site does not do any damage, while the slower wave that reaches the populated area is the one that shakes the ground and can damage buildings. A few seconds separate the two waves, and the length of this period is determined by the distance from the epicenter of the earthquake.

“A major destructive earthquake in Israel is not a question of if, it’s only a question of when,” Dr. Ariel Heimann, a geologist with the Israel-based Institute for National Security Studies told i24NEWS.

Heimann explained that the greatest danger to citizens during an earthquake comes from improperly constructed buildings, which could collapse during bouts of seismic activity.

He said that Israel’s government “should do much more to reconstruct” or fortify buildings that are not up to code against earthquakes, and said citizens can prepare for the upcoming natural disaster by storing food and water.

The “TRUAA” system consists of 120 censors distributed along the Dead Sea region, and other seismically- active areas. The system has the ability to measure the power and danger of earthquakes in seconds. If the earthquake was to happen in the Dead Sea, Jerusalem will receive a warning before it happens in 3 minutes, while Tel Aviv before 18 seconds, and Haifa before 30 seconds.

The stronger the earthquake, the warning would be sent to wider areas, and if the tremor was with a magnitude of 6 or more, the warning would be sent to all parts of Israel.

Geologists recently warned that about a million homes in Israel are at risk of collapsing in the event of an earthquake.

According to estimates, a major earthquake could kill about 7,000 people, injure 145,000 people, leave 170,000 people without shelter and destroy 320,000 buildings.

Nadeen Alshaer

Alshaer is a Palestinian journalist, a Birzeit University graduate with a B.A. in TV and Radio Broadcasting Journalism. Alshaer has 5 years of experience in the field of reporting and presenting. Currently works as a reporter and presenter/producer for PBC and Jerusalem24. She’s a UN and Kelley School of Business alumna

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