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Earthquakes Rock Uganda
New Vision (Kampala)
February 13, 1999

Kampala - Two earthquake tremors have shaken parts of Uganda within a space of three days, the Department of Geological Survey and Mines said yesterday.

A statement signed for the commissioner by Mr. S. Byamugisha, however, said they had not yet received complete information about the strength and location of the tremors, which occurred Wednesday and yesterday.

The Friday tremor was felt in Kampala. Byamugisha said both tremors were weak and unlikely to have wreaked havoc.

"The tremors on Wednesday February 10, 1999 and today (Friday) morning of February 12, 1999 have been recorded at our Entebbe station at 07:12:37 (a.m.) and 07:55:29 (a.m.) Local Time respectively," he said. He said they were waiting to receive information from the other earthquake detecting stations at Hoima and Kilembe before establishing the location and strength of the earthquakes.

"Without full information from all the seismological network stations, it is technically difficult to give the true characteristics of these tremors."

"This information will take time to be downloaded and be sent to the central processing station at Entebbe," he added. A seismic expert, Dr. Ezra Twesigomwe, recently said they had detected at least 6,570 earthquakes in Uganda since 1991.

But only 400 were successfully located. He said most of the tremors were mild but they indicate which are most prone to the natural disaster.

Such areas, he said, need safety precautions like earthquake-proof buildings.

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Tremor Rocks Uganda
New Vision (Kampala)
Geoffrey Kamali And Grace Matsiko
July 1, 2001

An earth tremor shook parts of the country yesterday, forcing many people to jump out of their beds and rush out of their houses. The tremour, whose magnitude could not immediately be established, occurred at about 2:40am, lasting over one minute. No destruction has been reported yet. "It's true, there was an earth tremour. It was recorded but we can not get the readings now because it is a weekend," Fred Tugume, the co-ordinator of the Uganda Seismology Society said yesterday. Residents of the earthquake-prone district of Kabarole however received less shock, compared to Mbarara and Kampala, residents said.

In Mbarara town, the residents abandoned their houses for fear that the buildings would collapse on them. In Kampala, most people said they did not feel the tremour.

The last time Kampala experienced an earth quake was in October 2000, measuring 4.2 on the Ritcher scale.

Experts described the Saturday early morning tremour as mild.

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Tremor Rocks Uganda (more info)
New Vision (Kampala)
July 3, 2001

A Tremor which shook several parts of Uganda at the weekend measured 4.4 on the Richter Scale, a Uganda Seisomology Society official said yesterday. The magnitude was slightly higher than the earthquake the country experienced in October last year.

The October earthquake measured 4.2 on the Richter Scale. No damage was reported to have been caused by the tremor in the areas where it occurred, the official, who asked not to be named said. "I think it is because it happened in areas which are not populated. We have taken readings based on our machines, there are no reports of damage yet," the official said.

The tremor, described by experts as a mild earth vibration had its epicentre (area of origin) around the shores of Lake George in western Uganda. Previous tremors which rocked mainly Bundibugyo district and caused wide spread dam age to property, also reportedly originated from the Lake George region.

The official said he could not determine in the short term how frequently similar tremors would occur in future but added that the country could expect more earthquakes.

The weekend tremor occurred at about 2:40am, forcing residents in Kampala and Mbarara to flee their houses. Residents in the earthquake-prone Kabarole and the surrounding districts in western Uganda are, however, reported to have experienced less shocks, compared to shocks experienced in the areas where it occurred.

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Tremors Alarm Kabale
New Vision (Kampala)
Darious Magara
January 23, 2002

RESIDENTS of Kabale and Kisoro districts have been frightened by tremors which have occurred for three continuous days as a result of the volcanic eruption in the Congolese town of Goma.

"The tremors have us on full alert. We have had to run out of our houses every now and again since Thursday last week," said Robert Bagyenda, the southwestern regional coordinator of wetlands.

Bagyenda and Stephen Musinguzi, the Kabale district private sector promotion officer who reside at Batuma's flats on Rugarama hill, said they were always on full alert for fear that the flats would collapse.

The headmaster Kabale Secondary School, Mr. Geoffrey Bashungwa said his family was cautious.

"Poorly constructed permanent houses and flats are most vulnerable to the tremors," he said.

Kisoro district chairman John Ntimbirigirwa said the tremors have scared the locals of Busaza, Nyarusiza and Muramba sub-counties, which neighbour the Congo.

He however said there was no damage reported.

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Tremors Hit Mufumbira Mountain Villages
New Vision (Kampala)
M. Kyomuhendo and Anne Mugisa
January 24, 2002

Two strong tremors hit villages in the lowlands of Mufumbira mountains in Kisoro district on Tuesday, causing panic among the residents of the dormant volcanic area.

Fear-stricken residents said the tremors were felt more in the areas of Nyarusiza, Muramba and Busanza. Other areas of the district also felt the tremors but the residents there said they were weakened.

However, officials of the Geology Department at Entebbe said Mufumbira area with its three peaks of Muhavura, Mgahinga and Sibinio, are not in danger of volcanic eruption. They said the tremors felt were aftershocks from the epicentre which is farther down.

The officials said up to Monday, the recorded tremors this month went to 4.7 on the Richter scale on the maximum, which is not big enough to cause panic. They said they were yet to receive data from at least three of the four geological centres in the country, regarding the subsequent tremors.

Kisoro district chairman John Ntibiringirwa said people were still scared by what is happening in Goma, Dr congo since Mufumbira mountains are connected to the active Nyiragongo, which erupted last week killing 45 people and displacing others.

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Earthquakes Expected
New Vision (Kampala)
March 4, 2003

SMALL earthquakes are expected in Uganda as a volcano brews in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), geology officials have said, reports Charles Wendo.

Scientists in Goma, DRC, on Thursday reported that they had detected "very fast" earth movements, indicating that Mt. Nyamuragira near Goma town was about to explode.

Uganda's Commissioner for Geology, Joshua Tuhumirwe, yesterday said the reports that an eruption loomed on Mt. Nyamuragira was not surprising. He said whereas they were yet to analyse data from Uganda's earthquake monitoring stations, the tremors associated with such an eruption was likely to affect Uganda.

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Uganda Expects Earthquakes
New Vision (Kampala)
Charles Wendo
March 11, 2003

ON February 27, 2003 scientists in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), detected earthquakes that made them suspect that the nearby Mt. Nyamuragira was about to erupt - within a few weeks or days. On the same day and the following day, a monitoring station at Kilembe in western Uganda recorded some earthquakes.

Mt. Nyamuragira is near Mt. Nyiragongo that erupted last year. The two are connected to the Bufumbira Mountains of south-western Uganda. They are so close to Uganda and Rwanda that Congolese people who fled last year's volcanic eruption walked to the borders.

The commissioner for geology, Joshua Tuhumirwe, says this proximity enables earthquakes that are associated with a volcano around Goma, to reach Uganda.

"When there was an eruption on Nyiragongo in 2002 we had small earthquakes for more than one week," says Tuhumirwe.

A volcanic eruption occurs when the restless magma (molten rock) inside the earth squeezes its way through the earth's weak points. As the red hot magma forces its way to the surface, it causes small earthquakes.

Dr. Ezra Twesigomwe, an earthquake expert at the Faculty of Science, Makerere University, says such earthquakes are usually small, and occur in series. They are referred to as volcanic earthquakes. Whereas such earthquakes act as alarm bells, they are not always followed by volcanic eruptions.

"You can get a lot of earthquake activity but no volcanic eruption. However, you are not likely to get an eruption without an earthquake," says Twesigomwe.

On D-day the mountain top explodes and fires into the air, a turbulent cloud of dust, ash and red-hot magma that eventually solidifies into pieces of rock and fall back to earth. Some of this turbulent mixture jets down the mountain slopes, burning anything it comes across.

The last time Mt. Nyamuragira erupted was in 2001. In January 2002, the nearby Mt. Nyiragongo erupted, killing 45 people and displacing more than 350,000 others.

But Tuhumirwe says the Bufumbira Mountains are not likely to erupt again. They last erupted more than 1.5 million years ago. On the contrary, the Congolese mountains have erupted 16 times in 100 years.

"I know that our people are safe," says Tuhumirwe.

Twesigomwe says earthquakes that accompany volcanic eruptions should not cause alarm because they are generally small. The bigger worry, he adds, would be the volcanic eruption itself, but the distance from Mt. Nyamuragira cannot allow the magma to flow all the way to Uganda.

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