Greece gets shaken up ‘Very lucky’ to escape serious damage from 6.9 Richter quake
||Sunday, January 8, 2006 at 11:34:53 (UTC)|
= Coordinated Universal Time
Sunday, January 8, 2006 at 1:34:53 PM
= local time at epicenter
Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
||48.4 km (30.1 miles) set by location program|
90 km (55 miles) NW of Chania, Crete, Greece
150 km (95 miles) SE of Kalamata, Greece
185 km (115 miles) WNW of Iraklion, Crete, Greece
200 km (125 miles) S of ATHENS, Greece
||horizontal /- 5 km (3.1 miles); depth fixed by location program|
||Nst=226, Nph=226, Dmin=73 km, Rmss=0.93 sec, Gp= 32°,|
M-type=moment magnitude (Mw), Version=Q
||USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)|
A wall at a cafe in Hania, Crete, collapsed after yesterday’s earthquake but nobody was injured in the incident. Crete and the island of Kythera, south of the Peloponnese, were worst hit by the tremor. Authorities in Hania and Kythera said that local schools would be shut today so the buildings can be inspected for any damage. Experts from the US Geological Survey said the quake may have been felt by up to 6 million people.
An earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale, one of the most powerful ever to strike Greece, was felt yesterday at lunchtime all around the country and as far afield as Israel, causing damage on the islands of Kythera and Crete but, remarkably, no serious injuries or deaths.
The quake struck at 1.34 p.m. as most Greeks were settling down to Sunday lunch. The tremor’s epicenter was about 200 kilometers south of Athens, in the seabed east of Kythera. It lasted some seven seconds and prompted hundreds of people in cities around Greece to leave their apartment blocks because of fears of damaging aftershocks.
“The earthquake happened at a great depth,” said Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos in a hastily arranged press conference. “There has been only limited damage in the area of Kythera.”
The Athens Geodynamic Institute said the quake occurred 70 kilometers below the sea, some 30 kilometers east of Kythera.
“We were very lucky this quake happened underwater,” said the head of the institute Giorgos Stavrakakis. “If it had happened on land it would be a mess. The fact that it was deep in the sea saved us.” There were several aftershocks, which did not cause any problems.
The quake was felt in southern Italy, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus and parts of the Balkans.
Greece is one of the most seismically active countries in the world and the last major quake to hit the country was in 1999, when a 5.9 Richter tremor struck Athens killing 143 people and leaving thousands homeless.
Seismologists said yesterday’s earthquake could lead to other tremors but added there was no reason to be alarmed by its magnitude or fearful of bigger quakes to come.
Despite the strength of the earthquake, damage was limited. On the island of Kythera, about 50 old houses collapsed or were damaged and water pipes burst. Officials said that the church in the village of Mitata is “ready to collapse.”
On Crete, minor damage was reported in the town of Hania, again mostly in old houses with one abandoned home collapsing.
The Culture Ministry said that according to initial checks, ancient ruins in Crete were unaffected but added that further checks will be conducted today.
“No damage was caused to monuments, museums and ancient objects housed in exhibition and storage areas,” the ministry said.
The country’s telecommunications network came under pressure and landlines jammed for some 30 minutes after the quake due to a system overload.