By Sumayyah Meehan, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
Kuwait City–This past Saturday, at approximately 1:46am, a mild earthquake shook Kuwait and some of itsâ€™ residents to their very core. Measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale the earthquake was measured by the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) at a depth of 7.3km and itsâ€™ epicenter was determined to be in the south of the country in Manageesh, which is just 50km away from the capital â€˜Kuwait Cityâ€™.
Earthquakes are very rare in Kuwait. The biggest one ever recorded was in 1993. It measured 4.7 on the Richter scale and it also occurred in Manageesh. However, tiny earthquakes do occur in Kuwait quite often. But since they usually only register at around 3 on the Richter scale they are not counted as real quakes, only as tremors, since they do not reach the surface of the land to move or shake it. Nonetheless, KISR does study these tremors extensively to better understand the occurrence of earthquakes in the region.
Many residents missed the effects of the recent quake because they were fast asleep. They only found out the next day as a result of the local newspapers and Kuwaiti blogs. However, there were several people who did feel the quake and got a pretty good scare. â€œI was watching TV and was just ready to fall asleep. I was laying on the floor and all of a sudden it started swaying and shaking,â€ says Abid Mohammad who is a Pakistani businessman, â€œI jumped up to my feet and looked outside to see if a plane had crashed. I did not find out that it was an earthquake until the following day.â€ A Syrian housewife, named Aisha, also got an intense jolt from the quake, â€œ I was up late with my sick daughter and I felt my building sway and the windows rattled. It was very scary.â€ Another Kuwait resident, Mumtaz Ahmed who is a local tailor, noticed that several dogs were barking in his neighborhood right before the quake. â€œI never even knew there were dogs in my neighborhood! But a few moments before the earthquake I heard at least four different dogs barking and howling. I knew something was wrong because animals always sense danger before humans do.â€
The Kuwait blogs have also been abuzz with news about the quake and have helped people find others to share their experience and fears with. On one Kuwaiti travel blog Lucy Elbeheri wrote:
â€œI was physically wiggle-woggled out of my bed. I looked over to see my hubby snoring sweetly and my baby didnâ€™t stir. I was standing by the bed with my heart pounding, things rattling and clanking around me. After a short while silence fell. I ran into the bedrooms of my 2 other children and they were both sleeping sweetly. My adrenaline was rushing and my eyes were WIDE open… nothing. Silence. No neighborâ€™s lights switching on from the windows, no one in the streets… I must have been dreaming. Was I?? I went into the lounge to check everything a last time before returning to my, now not shaking, bed. I turned to walk out and I saw the water in my fish tank sloshing from side to side. I wasnâ€™t dreaming.â€
The possibility of a larger and even deadly earthquake striking Kuwait in the future cannot be denied or ignored. Kuwait is strategically located just 350km from an active high-risk fault zone in Zargos, Iran. As a result of the danger earthquakes pose in the region, the research and development of a â€˜Seismic Networkâ€™ is currently underway in Kuwait. Headed by the Professor of Geophysics at Kuwait University, Firyal Bu-Rabee, the network will be established on the campus grounds. It will be able to record and track any earthquake that occurs on the surface of the Earth irrespective of the size. Professor Firyal has also teamed up with Sheikha Amthal Al-Sabah in the development of a pamphlet entitled, â€œAre You Prepared for an Earthquake?â€ which has recently been published. Most residents in this tiny gulf state do not even know that earthquakes can occur in Kuwait let alone what to do incase one happens. The pamphlet educates the public about earthquake awareness and preparedness.
Earthquakes are the most unpredictable and devastating forces of nature. It is only through education and preparedness that countries in quake zones can protect their infrastructure and populace. Kuwait is just one country in the GCC that is setting an excellent example for which other countries can follow.