By Nathan Morley
RESIDENTS in the Famagusta district remain baffled about the cause of a mysterious earthquake-like tremor that struck a widespread area of the region on Tuesday afternoon.
The short violent thud rattled buildings at 15:50, but the Cyprus Geological Survey claim they had not recorded anything.
“We did not deny that there was an earthquake, we have simply said that our seismological network did not detect or record any activity in the region on Tuesday. I don’t really know what it was,” Dr Stelios Nicolaides, a senior officer at Cyprus Geological Survey told the Cyprus Mail.
Speculation is rife that the tremor was triggered by an explosion, quarrying or even a military exercise at a local army base. One local TV channel claimed the tremor was the result of sonic booms produced by Israeli military jets. According to the television report, so-called ‘skyquake’ tremors can be felt from as many as 80 kilometers away from air force training missions.
However, an independent online monitoring site Earthquake.info contradicted local experts and logged a small earthquake several miles off the coast of Famagusta at around the same time on Tuesday. The US based website also published several accounts from local residents.
“It sounded like a truck crashing or an explosion,” a Paralimni resident reported, whilst another contributor wrote: “I was upstairs in the house and it was not so much side to side as an up and down motion. It was loud like a very heavy lorry going over the grids right outside your house but also it seemed to be banging up and down like if you were standing next to pneumatic drill.”
Local residents also took to Facebook and Twitter to describe what they thought was an earthquake.
Exactly 24 hours later on Wednesday at 15:18, a second tremor was officially recorded measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale. A third tremor at 18:20 was widely reported by online by residents, but was undetected by the Cyprus Geological Survey.
“We only know about the event at 15:18 on Wednesday, it was a very shallow earthquake at a depth of approximately two-kilometers. The Famagusta area normally has about eight to ten earthquakes a year. We had about eight earthquakes last year and about seven in 2011. I would say that what is happening is normal activity,” Nicolaides added.