Monaco Port
© The Riveria Times
The quakes happened around the coast of Monaco
Just days after a minor earthquake was recorded off the coast of Menton, three further tremors have been registered in Monaco.

The Geo-Azur Laboratory confirmed that the first of these latest rumbles was registered at around 10.32am on the 8th February and hit 2.3 on the richter scale. The second, felt at about 2.02pm, had increased to 2.4 in its maginitude and finally came the third and strongest quake, which reached 2.8 ML.

Although the fire department in Menton did not receive any emergency calls at the time of the first minor tremor, several residents in Monaco, from Fontviellle and Monte-Carlo in particular, phoned police two days ago to find out what was happening.

Jena Luc Berenguer, Professor of the European Center of Valbonne, told press that the seismologists who recorded the movement under the Mediterranean Sea are not sure if all four were caused by the same fracture in the sea bed or if there is any link between the Menton and Monaco tremors at all. He added that although it is impossible to make any predictions, there was no great cause for concern at present. In fact if the technology was not in place to register signs of these 'mini-quakes', most of the region's residents would not be aware that they were even happening.

That is not to say that there is no risk of a more violent catastrophe hitting the area. The French Riviera and western Liguria are at the junction of south-western Alpes and Liguria basin, a region of moderate seismicity. The last episode of note was in february 2001 when a seismic wave of a maginitude of 4.6 was recorded 25km off the shores of Nice, and also one on 1st May 1995.

If the 2001 tremour had been 6.5 to 7, it would have been a very different story say the seismologists working on the European-wide RISK-UE programme to assess the danger: up to 600 dead, 1,500 seriously injured and 10,000 to 40,000 forced on to the street in Nice alone.

One report estimates that around half a millions people have died on the Italian and French Rivieras in the last 400 years as a result of earthquakes. The last severe earthquake hit the small Italian town of Bussana Vecchia, just outside San Remo, on 23rd February, 1887. It killed more than 2000 people with the worst tremor, occurring at 6.21am on the Ash Wednesday morning, being a twenty second seismic wave that caused instant destruction and death.

Since the Bussana quake, smaller quakes have been felt in the region every few years. Generally these have not caused any major damage although considerable panic was felt in the Italian border town of Ventimiglia two years ago, when some high rise apartments began to sway as the ground shook beneath them.