The effects of an earthquake in Iran were felt in Dammam, Alkhobar and other parts of the Eastern Province yesterday afternoon.
However, the Saudi Geological Survey said the aftershocks were mild and did not cause any damage.
Tarek Abal Khail, spokesman of SGS, said the Iranian quake took place 240 km from Jubail, 290 km from Dammam and 280 km from Alkhobar.
“There were five aftershocks and each one of them was lesser than the previous ones in intensity,” he said.
Panicked residents and office workers streamed out of their homes and commercial towers as buildings shook for 10 to 15 seconds.
Col. Ali Al-Qahtani, a Civil Defense spokesman in Dammam, confirmed that there was no loss of life or injuries. “But, yes, everyone experienced the shaking of buildings,” he said. “We immediately activated our emergency response system.”
Eastern Province Gov. Prince Saud bin Naif and Deputy Gov. Prince Jalawi issued instructions to all government departments to stay alert.
“We clearly felt the tremors,” said Azzam Al-Amr, an Alkhobar resident. “The building just shook.”
Faisal Al-Asmari said he experienced mild tremors in nearby Ras Tanura.
Arab News received a number of messages from harried citizens and expatriates.
“At 3 p.m., our office in Ababtain Tower started to shake,” said Syed Qadeer. “We ran out using the staircase and saw most of the people crowding outside,” he said in his post on Arab News’ Facebook page.
There were similar scenes outside prominent Alkhobar landmarks such as the Habitat building.
The epicenter of the quake was in Iran.
The magnitude 6.3 quake struck 89 km southeast of the port city of Bushehr at 11:52 GMT at a depth of 10 km. BBC Middle East reported that 37 people were killed and 850 injured in south-west Iran. The nearby nuclear power station was not affected, Iranian officials were quoted as saying.
Parvez Naushahi, general manager at Ground Engineering Contractors (GEC) in Alkhobar, drew the media’s attention to the consequences of tectonic activities across the Gulf region.
“As foundation and geotech specialists, we have noticed that people are not considering the geological realities of medium-range earthquakes that can occur in and around the Gulf region,” he said. “Developments near the seashore in the Eastern Province are prone to liquefaction of foundation soil.”
He said: “If building foundations are constructed without proper engineering analysis, which may require good ground improvement, the soil will liquefy under earthquake stresses, it will become like liquid, and foundations will fail.”