Israelis to blow up Dead Sea in earthquake test
Wednesday 10 November 1999
A total of 5,000kg of dynamite is scheduled to blow up in the middle of the sea, whose shores are highly popular with tourists and are overlooked by nature reserves and biblical ruins.
The detonation, between 70 metres and 100 metres beneath the surface and at least three miles offshore, is part of an effort by the Israel Geophysical Institute to improve its seismic monitoring system.
The institute has already conducted at least one smaller explosion of 500kg this week, and was yesterday due to conduct another of 2,000kg. It says its analyses show the simulated quake will be no risk to people, property or environment. As a precaution, however, tourists were ordered out of the water before the first explosion on Monday.
But that has failed to convince Israel's environmentalists, including Bilha Givon, head of an organisation for the protection of the Negev Desert, who fear the blasts could trigger a natural earthquake.
"I am very concerned," Mrs Givon said yesterday. "If you want to simulate an aircraft accident, you don't blow up the plane. This is a very seismically sensitive area." Similar concerns have been expressed by Greenpeace.
Criticism has also come from Israel's Environmental Ministry, which has expressed fears that the explosion could release radon gas from the sea, damage the shorelines and harm wildlife. A spokesman said the ministry would seek to delay Thursday's detonation if the earlier explosions were found to be damaging.
Although the sea is lifeless - its lack of fish is the reason why it was chosen - the surrounding canyons are rich in natural life, caves and ancient ruins. They include at least two nature reserves. Aptly perhaps, the area is also traditionally believed to include the site of Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities destroyed by the Old Testament God, using fire and brimstone.
However, the Geophysical Institute, which has been told by Israel's National Infrastructure Ministry to find ways to reduce earthquake risk, is adamant that the contrived earthquake will not trigger a natural one.
The explosion will be "completely safe", said Avi Shapira, head of the institute's seismology department. "This is the only way to calibrate seismological instruments accurately. It will greatly improve our ability to find the locations of earthquakes in the region."
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Yorkshire man to win £10,000 off a £1 bet placed six years ago if Dan Jarvis becomes Labour Party leader
- 3 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
- 4 Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
- 5 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
Ohio Democrat Teresa Fedor speaks out during abortion debate to reveal she has been raped – and is interrupted by laughter from Republicans
Children take eight Isis captives to be beheaded in latest propaganda video
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
£14500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a Sales Ca...
£14560 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers unique pers...
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...