ASMARA, ERITREA– A series of moderate earthquakes struck the Eritrea – Ethiopia border region on Sunday evening, seismologists said, but it was not immediately known if there was damage or if there were casualties.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported a total of 14 light to moderate earthquakes in the border area on Sunday evening, with the strongest being two 5.7-magnitude earthquakes which were both centered in Eritrea.
The series of earthquakes began at 6.37 p.m. local time (1537 GMT) when a 5.1-magnitude earthquake struck about 128 kilometers (79 miles) west-northwest of Assab, a port city in the Southern Red Sea region of Eritrea. It struck about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake.
The moderate earthquake was followed by seven light earthquakes between magnitudes 4.5 and 4.8 on the Richter scale during the next 2.5 hours. Those were then followed by three earthquakes with magnitudes of 4.7, 4.8, and 5.0.
Soon after, at 11.32 p.m. local time (2032 GMT), a moderate 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck about 123 kilometers (76 miles) west-northwest of Assab at a depth of 10.1 kilometers (6.3 miles). It was quickly followed by another 5.7-magnitude earthquake, as well as a 4.5-magnitude earthquake.
There were no immediate reports from the region, but the USGS said there was a possibility of damage and casualties as a result of the earthquakes. It estimated that some 18,000 people may have felt moderate to strong shaking as a result of the 5.7-magnitude earthquakes, while 3.6 million others were estimated to have perceived light shaking.
Earthquakes in Africa are rare, especially moderate earthquakes, but similar events have happened before in the region. On July 20, 1884, a strong 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck offshore Massawa, Eritrea. Scores of homes in the region were destroyed but there were no confirmed reports of fatalities.
UPDATE 13/06 – 16:34 UTC : The ash cloud would probably travel to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel
UPDATE 13/06 – 16:30 UTC : Also the Lufthansa flights to Ethiopia have been canceled because of the ash concentration in the atmosphere.
UPDATE 13/06 – 16:16 UTC : Ash from ongoing eruption at Nabra volcano in Eritrea is likely to reach southern border only; may cause more problems to Egypt, Jordan. (source : Jerusalem Post).
UPDATE 13/06 – 15:52 UTC : Reader Avo reports from Mekele (Northern Ethiopia and approx. 200 km from the volcano) : I am a Frenchman living in Mekele, Northern Ethiopia, East from the volcano. I found this site while trying to know where the ashes where coming from.
Waking up this morning, everything was covered by a 1mm, sometimes 2mm layer of black ashes. The sky was cloudy today, but abnormally greyish. Ashes where still in the air till noon, as I got some in my eyes a few times.
UPDATE 13/06 – 14:08 UTC : New ” 12:00 UTC Ash advisory bulletin” for Air Traffic. Click here or on the picture below. The plume is gradually extending but for the real risk also ash concentration should be looked at.
UPDATE 13/06 – 13:28 UTC : Tim reports from Asmara, Eritrea:
Confirmed that there is indeed some volcanic ash in the air in Asmara, Eritrea.
Tonights Lufthansa flight has been canceled
The Department of mines is monitoring the event closely.
UPDATE 13/06 – 12:05 UTC : NASA satellite images in combination with Google Earth have given the final clue in the discussion which volcano was erupting. It is NABRO volcano, a volcano that has NO sign of being erupted in recent history. This will be a major scientific research eruption. We are still awaiting further news from Eritrea, but this news is making us happy, as Afambo will be far enough away from the volcano to not have received a direct impact.
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