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GORNO-ALTAISK, December 30 (Itar-Tass) — Not a single new tangible earth tremor was registered in Tuva overnight to Friday. Prior to that, numerous residual seismic events were recorded mostly in the Kaa-Khem district - the epicentre of the first powerful earthquake, which occurred on the night from December 27 to 28. Weak earthquakes may possibly repeat, the region’s main emergencies department told Itar-Tass.
According to the department, scientifically valid evidence that the first strong seismic impact will not recur are the so-called aftershock processes, when the first strong seismic event is followed by a series of much weaker earthquakes. At present, the series of aftershock processes in the republic already has about 30 weak seismic impacts. Thus, the likelihood of a second strong earthquake in Tuva is minimal, experts say.
The Emergency Situations Ministry (EMERCOM) has already begun to withdraw from the territory of Tuva a group of rescuers that was reinforced after the earthquake. At 21:00, local time (17:00 MSK), Thursday, and EMERCOM Ilyushin IL-76 plane with rescuers of the Centrospas squad, the 179th Rescue Centre and psychologists took off from Kyzyl to the Ramenskoye airfield outside Moscow. Units of the Siberian Regional EMERCOM Centre on Friday are returning to their bases.
An earthquake measuring 6.7 points and up to 9.5 points in the epicentre on the 12-point scale MSK-64 scale occurred in the Kaa-Khem district of Tuva at a depth of 10 kilometres on Tuesday evening. Earth tremors force from 2 to 5 points were felt in the territory of the Republics of Tuva, Khakassia and Altai, as well as the Krasnoyarsk and Altai Territories, the Irkutsk, Tomsk, Kemerovo and Novosibirsk regions. There were no fatalities and major destruction.
According to the Federal Service of Russia on Hydrometeorology and Monitoring of the Environment (Rosgidromet) and the Antistikhiya All-Russian center on monitoring and forecasting natural and man-caused emergencies of EMERCOM, Tuva is an earthquake-prone area with the power of earthquakes of 8-9 points. Over the past 20 years, the republic had 218 seismic events, two of which - in 1991 and 1995 - were identical in strength to the earthquake that occurred on December 27, 2011.
On Thursday, head of the republic Sholban Kara-ool said at a meeting with RF Regional Development Minister Viktor Basarginthat seismic activity in the Tuva republic has been subsiding. Despite this, evacuation centres where the number of people is becoming smaller every time continue to work, According to him, after a strong tremor measuring 9.5 points on the Richter scale, 26 minor aftershocks were recorded in Tuva between December 27 and 28. Thus, the intensity of earth tremors is subsiding, believes Sholban Kara-ool. The Tuvan Commission for Emergency Situations is currently functioning in the normal mode, he said.
Sholban Kara-ool thanked Viktor Basargin for support and reported to him on the situation in the republic. He noted that the effects of the earthquake at first glance may seem insignificant. However, experts are continuing to assess the consequences of the calamity, damage done to buildings and facilities on which the final conclusions will be based.
Viktor Basargin said that he arrived in Tuva to study the state of affairs following the earthquake, to familiarise himself with the state of life support facilities in the region and to take prompt measures for the provision of the needed aide by the Russian government to the republic.
On Wednesday, Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu said during a telephone conference with the republic’s leader Sholban Kara-ool that the Republic of Tuva has been extremely lucky to avoid casualties and extensive damage during the powerful earthquake, according to the press service of the Tuva government. Sholban Kara-ool informed the minister about the safety measures that had been taken and the result of checks of bridges in the region.
According to preliminary reports, bridges have not been damaged, except the one that links Tuva's capital with the right bank neighbourhood. Back in the spring, specialists acknowledged that the bridge was a hazard because of the weakening of its support structure.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Tuva leader toured a number of facilities in Kyzyl. He heard reports on the current situation and demanded more vigorous efforts by inter-departmental groups which are now checking the conditions of apartment houses and vital infrastructure facilities, both in the republic’s capital and in the Kaa-Khem district worst hit by the quake. The Tuva leader cancelled the New Year charity ball which was to have taken place in Kyzyl. He ordered to dispatch two working groups to the villages of Erzhei and Sizim, Kaa-Khem district, where repairs of transmissions lines were still underway.