Earthquakes felt in Cuevas del Almanzora and Zurgena

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TWO earthquakes, measuring 3.7 and 3.8 degrees on the Richter Scale were felt at around 1.50am on Tuesday in Cuevas del Almanzora and Zurgena.

No injuries or material damage were reported, according to Almeria Civil Protection and authorities of both towns have called for citizens to remain calm.

Michelle Woolley, 43 owns Styles Hairdressers in Turre and lives in Palaces, just 2km from the epicentre of the Zurgena earthquake.“I was woken up by a load bang and rumbling,” she told EWN. “The whole house shook and the bed moved about 2ft away from the wall. It was very scary. After the initial shock Woolley said she realised it must be an earthquake, “since this is the second one I have experienced in the eight years since I moved here from Essex.”

“This one was the worst though and the neighbourhood dogs were barking like mad.”

Just half an hour after the most recent earthquake in Cuevas del Almanzora, a small tremor, of 1.9 degrees on the Richter Scale was registered 62 kilometres away in Lorca “Shortly afterwards I felt an aftershock,” said Woolley.

“After experiencing this earthquake in the same year as the one in Lorca, it does make you think about the possible future, those poor people, we got off lightly. You just don’t know what is around the corner,” she said.

On the afternoon of May 11 this year two earthquakes of 4.4 and 5.2 degrees killed nine and injured more than 300. The damage caused by these earthquakes was estimated at €1.2 billion. This comes just 11 days after the landslide in Cuevas del Almanzora which claimed the lives of a man and his two sons.

The 48-year-old wife of the victim was injured in the landslide has left the Intensive Care Unit and remains at the Inmaculada Hospital in Huercal-Overa with several fractured bones. Her condition is reportedly improving and she has been moved to a ward.

The landslide caused some 3,000m3 of earth and rocks to fall on the cave house in which the family lived. The huge amount of earth hindered the rescue operation which took 20 hours and by the time the men, aged 52, 25 and 21, were found, they were dead.

The mayor of Cuevas del Almanzora, Jesus Caicedo, met with the government and Junta de Andalucia representatives in Almeria, Andres Heras and Maribel Requena respectively, in order to coordinate work to restore normality to El Realengo area where the tragedy struck.

The government sub-delegation and Civil Protection have opened the process to provide the funds needed to remove the debris and help families in emergency situations.

One of the possible causes for the landslide being considered by experts is seismic activity in the area.

Lorca subsidence

Lorca is also the European location which suffers the worst subsidence of the terrain, mainly due to the excessive extraction of underground water.

This was revealed in a study carried out by the GeoScience Institute in collaboration with the Spanish Mining and Geology Institute, Alicante University, Western Ontario University and researchers from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy.

A researcher from Madrid, Miguel de las Doblas, said in July that there is sufficient proof to consider that the seismic activity in Lorca in May was due to massive water extraction from the Guadalentin Basin.

Land has subsided in the area between 1.5 and 1.6 metres in the past 15 years, according to Geology magazine.

The water that is extracted is much more than the amount which is returned to the earth through rain and irrigation which means rock and sediment is subjected to less internal pressure which causes them to compact and reduce volume. This in turn causes the terrain to sink.

Special report by Jennifer Leighfield and Nicole Hallett

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