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In the event of a major earthquake in the north, disaster response crews will rely on volunteer forces to rescue the injured, according to Haifa fire department spokesman Hezi Levy.

Trained crews will be diverted to Haifa Bay for fire response and to prevent the escape of dangerous substances, which could harm the area's population.

Northern cities are unprepared for a serious earthquake, Levy said. He argues that a serious quake could collapse entire buildings in the cities.

Levy added that the industrial complexes in the Haifa Bay do not meet the Israeli standard for earthquake preparation.

In addition, the industrial area would suffer from seepage, as the pipes could burst upward or shatter during a quake.

According to Levy, only Haifa rescue and firefighting services, some 140 strong, would be capable of responding during the first 24 hours after such a quake.

The Home Front command forces are reserve forces whose mobilization will take at least 48 hours, he added.

The Israeli government had in the past set up an earthquake preparation committee. However, the committee has been without a chairman for nearly a year, Levy added.