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Seismic activities subside.

Byline: Yousuf Muhammad

AL-AIS: Although three more tremors measuring 3.62 on the Richter scale shook Al-Ais - 240 km northwest of Madinah - on Friday, Saudi Geological Survey (SGS) said seismic activities at Harrah Al-Shaqah, the epicenter of the earthquake and the location of extinct volcanoes, subsided considerably.

Residents of Al-Ais expect the tremors to end within a few days.

The tremors were registered between 2 p.m. on Thursday and 2 p.m. yesterday, said Col. Zuhair Sabeeh, commander of the Civil Defense force in Al-Ais.

He said only 10 families remained in camps in the quake-hit area while the rest were shifted to Madinah and Yanbu.

Sabeeh said recreational programs, including contests, were being organized for children living in the camps in Al-Ais and prizes were distributed among the winners.

Sabeeh said the Civil Defense has worked out a plan to bring back residents to their homes once the situation returns to normal.

"The situation has now improved considerably and all indicators show that the tremors will end within the next few days," he said.

"Officials of government departments are present near the camps to provide necessary services to people," Sabeeh said.

In a statement yesterday, SGS said its observatories across the Kingdom recorded only three minor tremors during the past 24 hours, adding that the tremors were 7.2 to 8.4 km under the ground. "No one in the area felt the tremors and there were no changes in wave formations recorded by our stations," the statement said. "We also did not notice any volcanic gas emissions."

SGS teams toured Harrah Al-Shaqah yesterday to look for new seismic activities in the area.

Al-Ais residents hope they could come back to their homes within a few days.

Meanwhile, Friday prayers did not take place in 22 mosques in the area yesterday. The calls for prayer from 150 small and big mosques in the area could not be heard.

Authorities have evacuated Al-Ais fearing the tremors would harm its residents.

Madinah Gov. Prince Abdul Aziz bin Majed said Al-Ais residents would be allowed to return only after receiving confirmation from authorized agencies that the area is free of any volcanic activity.

However, owners of cattle and farmers have been given a specific time to look after their animals everyday. He said the factories in Yanbu Industrial City have been constructed taking into consideration the likelihood of tremors.

The governor said all measures have been taken to ensure the protection of citizens and residents of Al-Ais and help their children continue education. They will also receive necessary health and social services. He said the material assistance ordered by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has been distributed among Al-Ais residents.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:May 23, 2009
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