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Effect of earthquakes in Kuwait limited to coastal areas: Experts

KUWAIT: The Sabah Al-Ahmad Center for Environmental Training at the Kuwaiti Environmental Protection Society, in cooperation with the Kuwaiti Society for Geosciences, organized a panel discussion titled “Turkey earthquake and its consequences for Kuwait”, presented by Dr Alham Al-Langawi, Dr Hussain Naqi and Dr Abdullah Al-Enezi. Jenan Bahzad, director of programs and activities and member of the board of directors of KEPS, said the seminar discussed three main subjects: the history of earthquakes in Kuwait, earthquake causes based on available data, the extent to which Kuwait was affected by regional earthquakes, and the earthquake in Turkey and the reasons behind it.

Dr Langawi explained the distribution of earthquake hotspots around the world, with the most vulnerable cities situated on the fault lines. But she said it is impossible to detect the time an earthquake will occur or how strong it will be. “Science, no matter how advanced, cannot determine a specific date for the occurrence of earthquakes, but there are some factors that help in predicting earthquakes, such as relative calm before an earthquake, jumping of fish from ponds, wild animals and marine organisms fleeing from sites near the epicenter of the earthquake, and cases where headaches have been observed among some people in areas where earthquakes occur,” Langawi said.

“Kuwait was previously affected in November 2017 by an earthquake that struck Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran with a magnitude of 7.2. Kuwait can be affected by the movement of the tectonic plate of the Arabian Peninsula towards the northeast, which could lead to pressure on the plates approaching it,” she added. Dr Enezi said: “One of the objectives of this workshop is to clarify scientific facts in earthquake science, spread awareness of the reasons behind the earthquake in Turkey and reject rumors and false information. Earthquakes are natural and they cannot be reduced or prevented, but their negative effects and risks can be avoided. Earthquakes do not kill or cause destruction – it is the buildings that kill, and here we must pay attention to the infrastructure and rehabilitate it so it can handle earthquakes and put in place construction requirements that adhere to global seismic standards of building.”

“There are two sources of earthquakes that affect Kuwait, one of which is a group of earthquakes in the southern regions of Al-Manaqish, Umm Qadeer and the northern regions of Al-Rawdatain and Al-Sabriya. The other is from the Zagros Mountains as a result of tectonic activities. The effect of earthquakes in Kuwait is limited to coastal areas for two reasons – the feeling of vibrations in tall buildings due to its inability to withstand earthquakes and the nature of the coastal clay soil in Kuwait. The largest earthquake, which struck the Burgan region with magnitude 5, did not have a devastating effect and its impact was very limited in the Sabah Al-Ahmad region,” he explained.

“Turkey lies on the Anatolian plate and is bound to the south by the Arabian plate and to the north by the Eurasian plate. It has been in constant motion for about 10 million years because this movement is the result the collision of the Arabian plate from the south and the Eurasian plate from the north, as the Arabian plate moves towards the north and northeast at a distance of 2 cm annually. Meanwhile, the Eurasian plate above the Anatolian plate moves, causing pressure on it and resulting in its movement towards the west,” Dr Al-Naqi said.

“The Anatolian plate is bordered from the north by a very large crack of 1,500 km, extending from eastern Turkey to the Aegean Sea, and it is similar to the famous California fault. It constitutes a seismically active area and has seen a large number of earthquakes since 1939. Since then, earthquakes have continued successively on the fault line. Scientists expect the next earthquake will be towards the Sea of Marmara, south of Istanbul, where approximately 15 million people live,” he added.


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