Duba: UAE officials calmed frayed nerves yesterday noting that the country was hit by tremors and aftershocks stemming from a major earthquake in Iran registering a 7.8 magnitude.
By comparison with what some are calling the worst earthquake to hit Iran in 40 years, aftershocks felt in the UAE were small because it was on the outlying fringes of the tremors, geologists said. The seismic network of Dubai Municipality announced that no losses were incurred in the tremors that hit the UAE. Engineer Mohammad Mashroum, director of the survey department at Dubai Municipality, said that the “main earthquake was clearly monitored by the network, and we are currently monitoring the aftershocks”.
The epicentre of the Iranian earthquake, logged at 10.44 GMT, 2.44pm UAE time, yesterday, was remotely located and its aftershocks did not cause any fatalities or injuries in the UAE, confirmed Abu Dhabi and Dubai Police. News wire reports said that the quake epicentre was in a mountainous desert area along the Iranian-Pakistani border about 200 kilometres southeast of Zahedan.
Abdullah Saleh, a UAE geologist in Al Ain, said: “Earthquakes are not unusual since the earth is dynamic and thousands of earthquakes have been taking place all over the world.” Iran is a highly active seismic zone and earthquakes are normally felt in the UAE.
The National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology also advised people to remain calm noting that an earthquake of this magnitude occurring far away causes small tremors by comparison. Hundreds of people gathered outside buildings in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Al Ain, and other parts of the country. Most were workers in high-rise office towers evacuated as a precaution.
Moawya Abdul Rahman, head of the structural engineering unit at Dubai Municipality’s building department, told Gulf News in a December 2012 interview that Dubai buildings must exceed earthquake standards. According to the Unified Building Code, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are classified as zone zero for seismic forces, yet Dubai Municipality takes precautionary measures and uses regulations for zone 2A, which can resist a force of 5.5 on the Richter scale.
Office workers on Shaikh Zayed Road in Dubai said they felt the tremors.
Helen Rodricks from India was on the 15th floor of Single Business Tower and said, “I felt dizzy. The receptionist pointed me to the picture frames that were moving, and the plant boxes were moving as well,” Rodricks told Gulf News.
Shenna Sandoval, 28, said: “I thought someone pushed my desk, or kicked it from behind and that’s why it was moving. But when I saw that everything else was moving, I realised there was an earthquake.”
Office towers in Abu Dhabi were also evacuated, including many in the Corniche area and the city’s business centre.
“There was panic when we saw that the tables, chairs and even window glass were shaking. Pens were falling off tables at our Najda Street office on the 16th floor,” said Mohammad M., an engineer.
In Sharjah, at a 40-floor residential tower in Al Khan area, an Indian housewife said: “I grabbed my two kids and took the lift down from the 27th floor. There were already other tenants outside.”
— By Aftab Kazmi, Bureau Chief; Janice Ponce de Leon, Faisal Masudi, Jumana Khamis, Noor Nazzal, Samihah Zaman, and Aghaddir Ali, Staff Reporters