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FW: Israeli Wedding Hall Collapse Sharpens Quake Fears

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My very close friend is Israeli. She and her husband have been following the
collapse of the wedding hall in Jerusalem last week. She forwarded this
article by Megan Goldin (Jerusalem - Reuters) as I asked her to keep me
posted of any in formation coming out of Kol Israel (the international news)
that I may not see.
I thought I would forward this to the group as it has an interesting
perspective that many of us would be interested in.

Regards
Dennis S. Wish, PE

-----Original Message-----
From: Namordi, Eyal [mailto:eyal.namordi(--nospam--at)bankofamerica.com]
Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2001 10:27 AM
To: edmond_n(--nospam--at)ureach.com
Subject: Israeli Wedding Hall Collapse Sharpens Quake Fears


Israeli Wedding Hall Collapse Sharpens Quake Fears
By Megan Goldin
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The collapse of an Israeli wedding hall has
highlighted fears that poor building practices could make many buildings
``ticking bombs'' in a country located in an earthquake zone, building
experts said Tuesday.
At least 23 people were killed and hundreds injured when the dance floor of
a Jerusalem wedding hall caved in under hundreds of guests last Thursday,
prompting a state inquiry into building safety and a criminal investigation
by police. It was Israel's worst civilian disaster.
Israeli building experts said with some contractors cutting corners and
engineering standards often not enforced, it was just a matter of time
before such a disaster was bound to occur.
``There are today many, many buildings in Israel that for many reasons are
like ticking bombs,'' forensic engineer Reuven Katz told Reuters.
Katz said he was particularly concerned about what would happen if a
powerful earthquake hit the region, as some geologists expect some time this
century.
A report prepared by Israeli engineers after 15,000 people died in an
earthquake in Turkey in 1999 estimated that about 50 percent of the
buildings in Israeli cities could collapse if rocked by an earthquake
measuring 7.5 on the open-ended Richter scale.
A separate report by a government committee said between 5,000 and 10,000
people would be killed and up to 8,000 buildings destroyed if an earthquake
of that magnitude hit Israel.
Israel is situated on two fault lines, and there have been frequent
earthquakes in previous centuries. A quake of 6.2 on the Richter scale hit
the Jordan Valley area in 1927, and 5,000 people were killed in another big
quake in 1837.
FEAR POWERFUL QUAKE MAY HIT THIS CENTURY
Geologists say that an earthquake that hit the region in around 700 B.C.,
and another 1,400 years later in 730 A.D., point to the possibility of a
quake measuring about seven on the Richter scale shaking the region this
century.
``The entire country is dangerous for earthquakes. The only question is when
and how strong,'' said engineer Uri Harmel, who heads an engineering
standards board.
``If there is an earthquake of the estimated strength, I would not want to
be in a building in Israel,'' he said.
Harmel and five other prominent engineers have appealed to the Supreme Court
to order the government to establish a center to enforce Israel's building
standards. So far their appeals have not been answered.
Professor Yaakov Glick said Israel's preparedness for earthquakes is
``somewhere in the middle, not as good as in California, but better than in
Turkey.''
He said one of the problems was that thousands of buildings built in Israel
before the 1970s were constructed partly on stilts and would be susceptible
if a quake hit.
``Buildings that were built before the 1970s may be dangerous,'' said Glick,
from Haifa's Technion university.
Katz and other experts say the problem is one of enforcement.
Last week's wedding hall collapse was the worst in a chain of building
disasters in Israel, including the deaths of four Australian athletes when a
sub-standard bridge collapsed at the opening ceremony of the Maccabiah
``Jewish Olympics'' in 1997.


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