Athens, Greece — A powerful, protracted earthquake of preliminary magnitude 5.8 that struck Crete, Greece on Monday killed one, injured 20 and damaged homes and churches, the fourth largest in the country. The bedrock slipped down near the city.
The quake fled people to the streets of the city of Heraklion and evacuated schools. Repeated aftershocks, described by witnesses as feeling like a small explosion, rattled the area and damaged villages near the epicenter.
“The quake was strong and long lasting,” Heraklion Mayor Vasilis Rambrinos told private antenna television.
According to the Athens Geodynamics Institute of magnitude 5.8, the quake occurred at 9:17 am (0617 GMT) and had its epicenter 246 km (153 miles) southeast of Athens, the capital of Greece.
According to hospital officials, 20 people were being treated for injuries, and 10 of them were receiving first aid.
International and domestic flights to Heraklion Airport were unaffected by the earthquake, but the regional hotel management association said there was no serious damage to hotels in the region, including many popular holiday resorts. ..
Municipal construction vehicles helped scoop up rubble and knock down the balconies of heavily damaged apartments to pave the way for paramedics.
“This is not an event that happened without warning. Activity in the area has been seen for several months. It was a strong earthquake. It was land, not underwater, affecting densely populated areas.” Said seismologist Gerasimos Papadopoulos at the Greek national broadcaster ERT.
The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center and the United States Geological Survey have shown a preliminary magnitude of 6.0 at the epicenter 7 km (4 miles) north of the village of Trapsano. It is common for different seismological institutions to give different magnitudes to an earthquake.
The Greek Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection said a man had been killed. According to officials, he was separated from the rubble of a partially collapsed church in the village of Alcalocholi, very close to the epicenter. According to local media, the victim was a 65-year-old architect who worked in the church when the roof collapsed.
Government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou said there were no reports of people missing or trapped under the rubble.
Seismologist Efthimios Lekkas, who heads the Greek Earthquake Planning and Protection Organization, said inspections of important buildings such as schools and hospitals have already begun.
“We are encouraging people living in damaged old buildings to stay outdoors. A single aftershock can cause a collapse,” Lekkas said from Crete. “We are talking about structures built before the 1970s. Structures built after 1985 are built to higher standards that can withstand the effects of earthquakes.”
Crisis Styrianides, Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, who visited Crete, said an emergency had been declared in the area. Local media said hundreds of homes were damaged, including more than half of Alcalocholi’s homes.
Civil protection officials said tents have been set up for residents whose homes have been damaged and can accommodate up to 2,500 people.
The fire department said it was flying 30 members of a disaster response unit with detection dogs and special rescue equipment to Crete, and all disaster response units and fire department services on Crete were on general alert. It was placed.
Numerous aftershocks struck the area, giving the EMSC two strongest reserve magnitudes of 4.6.
Greece is one of the most seismically active regions in the world, but strong earthquakes that cause massive loss of life and widespread damage are rare. In 1999, an earthquake struck just outside Athens, killing 143 people.
By Elena Becatoros and Derek Gatopoulos