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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 February, 2004, 09:42 GMT
Earthquake shakes up Middle East
An earthquake has shaken parts of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to witnesses.

There were no reports of substantial damage or casualties.

Israeli radio said it caused MPs in the Israeli parliament to rush out of committee meetings into the corridors fearing a large bomb had gone off.

People left offices across the region, as tremors were felt in the Jordanian capital Amman and as far away as the Lebanese capital Beirut.

Local media reported that the earthquake had a magnitude of 4.5 and had its epicentre on the northern shore of the Dead Sea.

Cable TV and wireless networks were knocked out.

"It was big, I felt it," Yossi Shamir, evacuated from an office in Jerusalem, told Reuters. "It was scary."

The region is located on the Great Rift Valley, which runs for 4,800km (3,000m) between Syria and Mozambique, and passes through the Dead Sea.

There is another fault line 55km to the north cutting the land from east to west from the Mediterranean port of Haifa with the West Bank towns of Jenin and Nablus before reaching the Jordan river.

A small earthquake was felt in the Dead Sea region on 31 December, but here too there was no damage.

Deadly history of earthquakes
08 Jan 04  |  In Depth

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