Mideast Shaken by Aftershock; Quake Damages Ancient Tomb

Associated Press

A moderate aftershock rattled the Middle East on Thursday, and caretakers of the Great Pyramids at Giza discovered that the previous day's deadly quake has spread slight cracks in a 5,000-year-old burial chamber.

The 20-second, magnitude-5.4 aftershock was centered south of the Israeli resort of Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba, the same as the original quake Wednesday, Israel's Institute for Petroleum Research and Geophysics said.

Wednesday's earthquake rocked seaside communities in Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia and spread panic across a wide arc of the Middle East. Buildings toppled, electricity was cut, and at least 10 people were killed.

There were no immediate reports of major injuries or damage from Thursday's aftershock, although electricity and some phone service was interrupted in Eilat.

In Cairo, Zahi Hawass, director of antiquities on the Giza Plateau, said the tremor caused a crack 20 inches long and three inches wide in the burial chamber of the pharaoh Chephren, ruler of Egypt between 2589 BC and 2530 BC.

The chamber is in the pyramid that lies between the Great Pyramid of Cheops and the much smaller pyramid of Mycerinos.

Chephren's pyramid was closed Oct. 10 for what is expected to be a three-month repair project for damage caused by tourists and time.

In Libya, the official news agency aired Libyan geology experts' contention that Wednesday's shaking actually was the result of Israeli nuclear tests in the Gulf of Aqaba.

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