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Earthquake experts: ‘Don’t panic’

Employees in Media City

Evacuation procedures called for as earthquake tremors felt in the Emirates.

April 17, 2013 11:45 by

Yesterday afternoon, residents in the United Arab Emirates got a small taste of the region’s second deadly earthquake in eight days. Gulf News reports that local authorities including the Dubai Municipality have announced that there have been no casualties, injuries or damages.

“Passenger operations unaffected by tremors in the UAE, no damage to facilities reported. #Earthquake,” Dubai Airports announced through a post on Twitter.

As a safety precaution, Kipp hears that many of the country’s offices in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Dubai and Al Ain were evacuated. In Dubai Media City, we witnessed hundreds of people (including ourselves) standing outside their buildings for as long as an hour, before heading back inside. The 7.8-magnitude quake struck the southeast border of Iran at 2.45pm UAE time, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Authorities in the UAE have advised all residents that panicking isn’t the solution and that rumours of another earthquake hitting the country are moot. A spokesperson from the Abu Dhabi-based National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology told Emirates247 that “these things cannot be predicted”.

“We cannot predict whether there will be another earthquake. We simply analyse the situation, but getting panicked is not the answer.”

Kipp can certainly agree with that, but a more pertinent fact the aftershock has (hopefully) brought to light, is the need for UAE residents to be trained on evacuation drills. If the hundreds of comments and posts by residents on social forums are an indication of anything, it is that many people were genuinely unprepared and misinformed about what they should do during an earthquake.

Many people panicked, which ironically is the first thing that experts advise you against during a quake. The second would be (although that may not apply in the UAE since the tremors weren’t that strong) to drop down onto your hands and knees. There are a few other important points, such as moving to a safe location – particularly away from doors and glass. And never, ever, ever use an elevator.

Iranian authorities declared a state of emergency – describing the quake as the strongest and deadliest in over 40 years. So far, Reuters has reported the death of 47 people in Iran and 35 people in neighbouring Pakistan.

On April 9, a less powerful, but equally devastating earthquake struck close to Iran’s only nuclear station – killing 37 people, injuring 850 and destroying homes and villages. In 2003, 26,000 people were killed as a result of a 6.6-magnitude quake that struck the Iranian city of Bam.

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