Quake fears

Scientists have confirmed that the epicentre of the major earthquake that killed more than 500 people near the resort of Al Hoceima in Morocco was only 360 kilometres from the Algarve.

The news came after the director of the Civil Engineering Department at the University of the Algarve, Carlos Martins, revealed that the quality of building construction in the Algarve is more similar to that of Bam in Iran, scene of another recent devastating quake, than it is to California. According to Martins, the poor building quality in the region is down to inadequate inspections.

Meanwhile, the Civil Governor of Faro, José Valentim Rosado, maintains that the Algarve could cope with the results of a serious earthquake, although he makes an important qualification. “It’s always very difficult in the event of a great catastrophe. You only have to look at other countries to see that. Solidarity between countries is absolutely essential. In our country, and in particular, in the Algarve, which is a systemic region by its nature, we have the ability to deliver an effective and rapid response. The problem depends on the degree of the destruction resulting from a quake. If we are talking about a great catastrophe, it would be impossible to say that we could make all the necessary means available.”

In a separate incident, a minor earth tremor was recorded last week. Its epicentre was eight kilometres north east of Viana do Alentejo. The tremor caused no damage to people or materials and passed unnoticed by the general population. Sources from the bombeiros, the GNR and the municipality of Viana do Alentejo maintained they had not felt the tremor, which registered 2.5 on the Richter scale and was recorded at 11.17 on Thursday February 26.