A state of emergency has been declared in Tuva, Central Siberia, close to the border with Mongolia. An earthquake of magnitude 6.7 on the Richter scale hit the area in the early hours of Wednesday. The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry has dispatched extra units to the region to deal with the aftermath of the quake, as well as the aftershocks which have occurred. Inhabitants of the region remain upbeat, joking about the coming of the often predicted end of the world. About 16 thousand people are checking houses on the ground and from the air, as well as electricity stations and other essential facilities, and are helping the people of Tuva.
The republic was hit by the most powerful quake in its history, on the night of Wednesday. Estimates put the quake’s magnitude at 6.7 and 9 in the epi-center, which lies 100 kilometers east of the regional capital of Kyzyl, at a depth of 10 kilometers. Several aftershocks have been reported. In the morning, the magnitude of the quake had come down to 4.7. Seismologists report several smaller quakes of low intensity near the epi-center.
Oleg Starovoit, deputy Director for scientific work at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Geophysics Service says that nobody expected an earthquake of such a magnitude. “Earthquakes of such force are rare in Tuva, and therefore, it cannot be called a typical phenomenon. Quakes of smaller forces do occur in the region”, Oleg Starovoit said, Residents of the neighbouring regions of Khakasia, Krasnoyarsk and Altai region, Irkutsk, Kemerovo and Tomsk felt the aftershocks. Significantly, the earthquake didn’t cause serious damage, but some residents have complained of cracks appearing in the walls of their homes, doors and window panes..
As a precautionary step, the Emergency Situations Ministry has sent to the region extra units, a team of psychologists and a mobile home for people, if an evacuation is necessary. This is what Svetlana Potekhina, an official of ESM’s Siberian office told VOR in an interview. “There has not been a serious interruption in the work of power stations, Housing and communal Service, railways and other essential services. Houses are being checked on the ground and from the air, and according to the latest information, no serious damage has bee found”, Svetlana Potekhina said.
The people of Tuna remain calm, and many people are already reportig the quake in their blogs and on their sites. Their comments show no evidence of panic. Seismologists have analyzed the seismic state of Tuva for the past 20 years, and they have concluded that a shift in the earth’ crust in the region is possible within a month, but no serious damage will occur.