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Sat 16 Feb 2008 12:29 PM

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Lebanon rocked by earthquake, 10 injured

Quake measuring 5.0 on Richter scale sending panicked residents out into streets in south.

An earthquake measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale rocked Lebanon on Friday, injuring 10 people and sending panicked residents out into the streets in the south of the country.

The quake, which was also felt across the border in Israel and in the Gaza Strip, caused damage in a number of villages in southern Lebanon while buildings shook in the capital Beirut.

In the southern coastal city of Tyre, residents ran toward the seashore and began reciting verses of the Koran after the tremor struck, an correspondent for newswire AFP said.

Lebanon's National Centre for Scientific Research said the quake had an intensity of 5.0 on the Richter scale, with its epicentre located 17 kilometres northeast of Tyre, adding that 10 people were slightly injured.

"We expect another quake of similar magnitude or stronger in the next 24 hours," said centre director Mouin Hamzeh.

The tremor - the second in the region this week - hit at around 1030 GMT.

"Several abandoned homes collapsed and some buildings suffered cracked walls and balconies," Hamzeh told AFP.

Local television said some villages in the south experienced power cuts. The chimney on one building in Tyre came tumbling down, crushing several vehicles.

Israeli media reports said the quake was also felt in the central part of the country and in the Gaza Strip, without any initial reports of injuries or property damage.

Seismology experts in Israel warn of a major earthquake within years because of a major faultline in the region.

Another tremor measuring about 4.0 on the open-ended Richter scale struck Lebanon on February 12 and was also felt in Israel. Its epicentre was six kilometres east of Tyre.

The last earthquake of such magnitude to shake the country took place in 2001 with its epicentre in the Bekaa region of eastern Lebanon.

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