Tremors create panic in EP, Riyadh

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Updated 20 April 2013

Tremors create panic in EP, Riyadh


Thousands of people ran from their homes and offices in the Eastern Province yesterday after tremors were felt from a massive earthquake in Iran.
There were reports of tremors in Dammam, Alkhobar and other parts of the Eastern Province. Tremors were also felt in other Gulf states and as far as India. At least one building in Riyadh was evacuated yesterday when office workers felt the building shake.
No injuries were reported in the Eastern Province or Riyadh by the Civil Defense.
Jamal Khan, an IT expert at Saudi Research and Publishing Company (SRPC) in Dammam, said: “I felt the building shake. I just wanted to find a way to escape.” 
Shajahan, an expatriate living in Dammam, said: “I felt the building shake and was shocked and afraid. When I got outside, I saw other people had also left their buildings.” 
Muhammad Yahya, a citizen, said: “This earthquake was stronger than the one last week.”
Dr. Zuhair Nawab, president of the Saudi Geological Survey, told Arab News yesterday that the Eastern Province and Riyadh felt the earthquake at noon yesterday. “The earthquake in Iran occurred in the south-east of Iran, which is 1,300 km away from the Saudi border,” he said. He said there was no cause for alarm because the Kingdom was far from the earthquake's epicenter.
The Almezan Tower in Olaya Street in Riyadh was evacuated yesterday as a precautionary measure. However, Nawab said the evacuation was not ordered by the Civil Defense, but by the owners and occupants of the complex. 
Suber Syed, who works as a regional product manager at one of the offices at Almezan Tower, said: “I was in a meeting with my team around 2 p.m. when suddenly we felt the table shaking. My other colleagues in the office shouted out in surprise and panic and we all headed toward the corridor. The whole building was being evacuated. The lifts were shut down and we had to take the stairs down from the sixth floor.”
Hemant Pandya, a systems engineer, who also works in the same tower, said: “We felt as if our building was swinging. I first felt our table moving, then my chair swinging. I saw that my colleagues were experiencing the same thing, so we rushed out of the building.”
According to reports, the US Geological Survey said the earthquake hit at a depth of 15.2 km.
On April 9, a powerful 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck close to Iran's only nuclear power station, killing 37 people, injuring 850 and devastating two villages. This one was not close to a nuclear facility.
Meanwhile, there were reports of 34 people being killed in Pakistan, with hundreds of houses flattened.
Iran sits on major geological faultlines and has suffered several devastating earthquakes, including a 6.6 magnitude earthquake in 2003 that flattened the city of Bam, in the country’s far southeast, killing more than 25,000 people.




Saudi sources deny ‘unsubstantiated’ reports of permitting alcohol

Updated 26 min 49 sec ago

Saudi sources deny ‘unsubstantiated’ reports of permitting alcohol

  • “The leadership has made it clear from day one; it is simply not happening,”SCTH source tells Arab News
  • The SCTH is responsible for licensing and rating hotels and restaurants

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has no plans to allow the sale or public consumption of alcohol, a senior government source has told Arab News.

The official with access to relevant decision-makers categorically denied “unsubstantiated” media reports in some international and regional news outlets.

“If you read the fake news, you will notice it is all based on hearsay and tweets by accounts known to have a questionable agenda when talking about the Kingdom,” he said.

“As the country moves forward with its reform plans, we expect much speculation and attempts by critics to hold us back. And while people are allowed to speculate and criticize, their speculation should not be treated as the truth.”

A second source at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) also denied such reports. “The leadership has made it clear from day one; it is simply not happening,” he told Arab News. “I have not heard of any plans to allow alcohol in major cities, free zones or new projects.”

The SCTH is responsible for licensing and rating hotels and restaurants. Any plans for the sale or consumption of alcohol would have to go through the commission for implementation. 

Saudi Arabia has witnessed substantial social reforms over the past three years, such as the curbing of the previously unchecked power of the religious police, reopening cinemas and allowing women to drive.

There has also been a major shift on previously prohibited public entertainment and gender mixing. International artists including Mariah Carey, Yanni, Andrea Bocelli, Enrique Iglesias and Black Eyed Peas have all performed.

Tourism projects have included pop-up versions of international restaurants such as Signor Sassi, Nusr-Et and Nobu. None has served alcohol.

“Officials have repeatedly said all changes were and will always be in line with Islamic teachings and traditions,” the senior source told Arab News.