Series of moderate earthquakes hit Eritrea – Ethiopia border region

June 13, 2011

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.