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Wed 6 Feb 2008 05:01 PM

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UAE tremors not warning of major quake - expert

Residents reassured after warning serious earthquake 'only a matter of time'.

The succession of mild earth tremors that shook the UAE earlier this week were not necessarily a warning that larger earthquakes are on the way, an expert said on Wednesday.

Fears of a major quake hitting the Gulf were raised last month when an official at the Kuwait-based Regional Organisation for the Protection of the Marine Environment (Ropme) warned it was "only a matter of time" before one struck the region.

Four moderate quakes hit the Emirates' east coast early on Sunday, just a day after a tremor measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale struck Deba Al Fujairah on the east coast.

Residents up and down the coast felt the tremors, the most significant of which had a magnitude of 4.4, but there were no reports of injuries or damage to property.

Remy Bossu, secretary general at the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC), reassured residents the seismic activity was normal for the region.

“These UAE events are minor ones and can occur any time and nearly everywhere. They are not in any way an indication for seismic activity in the future,” Bossu told ArabianBusiness.com.

“In this region you have the mountainous Zagros Range, which is the collision of the western boundary of Iran, and the Arabic Peninsula. It’s a highly seismic active area."

He said minor earthquakes were often grouped together in area and time and it was not abnormal to observe several events in such a short space of time.

Earthquakes occur independently of each other and could only be predicted in terms of decades if seismic activity was long overdue in a region, he added.

Last month Ropme Executive Secretary Abdul Rahman Al Awadhi warned that a major earthquake could be due in the Gulf region.

“The chances of a natural disaster are very high and the possibilities of a major earthquake hitting the region cannot be ruled out," Al Awadhi said, quoted Bahrain's Gulf Daily News.

"We are right next to Iran, which has had several earthquakes already and it is only a matter of time before we are hit by one."

In one of the worst earthquakes to hit the region in years, Iranian city of Bam in the Kerman province was virtually destroyed in 2003 by an earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale. The quake killed around 30,000 people.

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