A major earthquake in Israel could claim the lives of up to 7,000 people, injure 8,600, destroy the homes of 170,000 and trap 9,500 people under rubble: this according to Israel's National Emergency Authority (NEA) Director Bezalel Treiber. He delivered his warning to Israel's parliament, the Knesset, on Wednesday.
According to Treiber, in the first week following a major quake, the majority of people trapped would be rescued by relatives and neighbors.
Treiber and his team of National Emergency Authority experts presented their findings to the Knesset Subcommittee on Homefront Emergency Readiness on Wednesday.
The problem, reports Times of Israel, is that, because "Israel and its neighbors [are] sitting on a major fault line, a major quake such as the one that hit Italy could happen at any time.
"Israel and the Palestinian territories lie atop a tear in the earth’s crust running along the country’s eastern flank — the margins of two tectonic plates — which seismologists deem a high-risk zone.
"As the Arabian plate, on which Jordan sits, grinds northward at 20 millimeters per year relative to the neighboring African plate to its west, earthquakes intermittently occur, sowing death and destruction."
Anticipating Israel's next big quake, the NEA team said its damage and casualty assessments were calculated by weighing the potential magnitude of an earthquake in various locations, potential risks and the durability of structures. It also took into account the need for municipal and state operational continuity. A total score was calculated that denotes the level of urgency needed to tend to structures.
The team also presented tools it developed to enable local authorities to analyze potential damage in their areas and prepare accordingly.
Treiber said the Finance Ministry estimated the damage in the event of an earthquake at over 90 billion shekels ($24 billion), but according to the National Emergency Authority's evaluations, damage is more likely to be NIS 150 billion to NIS 200 billion ($39 billion to $53 billion).
In 2010, the government decided to invest NIS 140 million ($37 million) a year for 25 years to reinforce existing structures, but the decision was shelved by the Finance Ministry in 2013.
This is a lightly edited version of the original story published by Israel Hayom at http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=37655