Strong quake near Athens sparks fear
Some power cuts after 5.1 quake but no reports of injuries so far
published : 19 Jul 2019 at 19:12
writer: The Associated Press
ATHENS: A strong earthquake struck near the Greek capital of Athens on Friday, causing residents to run into the streets in fear and firefighters to check for people trapped in elevators.
The Athens Institute of Geodynamics gave the earthquake a preliminary magnitude of 5.1 but the US Geological Survey tagged it as a magnitude of 5.3. The Athens Institute says the quake struck at 2.13pm local time (6.13pm Thailand time) some 23 kilometres north of Athens.
Authorities inspected areas close to the epicentre by helicopter and police patrols but no deaths or serious injuries were reported. Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said one abandoned building had collapsed in a western district of Athens and that several other abandoned buildings had suffered serious damages in other parts of the city.
“There are no reports of serious injuries … I urge members of the public to remains calm, in Greece we are well acquainted with earthquakes,” he said.
The quake caused limited power cuts and communication problems around Athens and the fire brigade reported receiving calls about people being trapped in elevators. The shock was caught live in the studios of state broadcaster ERT.
The most powerful quake to hit the Greek capital in the last 20 years came in 1999, when a temblor of magnitude 6.0 caused extensive damage and killed more than 140 people.
Gerasimos Papadopoulos, the senior seismologist at the Geodynamics Institute said Friday’s quake was felt across southern Greece.
“It had a very shallow depth and that’s why it was felt so strongly,” he said. “It is too early to say whether this was the main earthquake, but there have been aftershocks of magnitude 3.5, 2.5 and 3.2 and that is encouraging. But we need more time and data to have a clear picture.”
Earthquakes are common in Greece and neighbouring Turkey.