ATHENS, Greece — An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of at least 5.8 struck the Greek island of Crete on Monday, killing one person and injuring several others, while damaging homes and churches and causing rock slides near the country’s fourth-largest city.
The quake sent people fleeing into the streets in the city of Heraklion, and schools were evacuated. Repeated aftershocks rattled the area, adding to damage in villages near the epicenter.
The Athens Geodynamic Institute said the quake struck at 9:17 a.m. (0617 GMT), with an epicenter 246 kilometers (153 miles) south southeast of the Greek capital, Athens.
“This is not an event that occurred without warning. We have seen activity in this region for several months. This was a strong earthquake, it was not under sea but under land and affecting populated areas,” seismologist Gerasimos Papadopoulos said on Greece’s state broadcaster ERT.
“The earthquake was strong and was long in duration,” Heraklion mayor Vassilis Lambrinos told private Antenna television. “We have requested that schools are evacuated. The children are out in the playgrounds.”
International and domestic flights to Heraklion airport weren’t affected by the quake, while the region’s hoteliers association said there was no serious damage to any hotels in the area, which includes many popular holiday resorts.
There were no reports of any injuries though two people
were trapped in damaged buildings, the authorities said.
Earlier the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said the earthquake reached a magnitude of 6.5, while the United States Geological Survey (USGS) put it at 6.0.
One of three people trapped in the rubble of a collapsed church has died after the quake shook buildings on the island sending locals running onto the streets in panic.
The 6.5 quake damaged buildings on the island
One person is dead and at least nine have been injured in a strong earthquake that struck the Greek island of Crete on Monday morning. Greece’s climate crisis and civil protection ministry confirmed the death of a man who had been completing church renovations in the town of Arkalochori, and was crushed when the dome caved in.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre reported that a 6.0 magnitude quake struck at 9.17 am with an epicentre 16 miles south south east of the city of Heraklion and a depth of 6.2 miles. At least nine aftershocks have also struck the area, with the strongest one registering a magnitude of 4.6.
Hotels and schools near the epicentre have been evacuated as local media reported that a number of older buildings had suffered structural damage.
Sarah Williams-Long, a doctor at King’s Hospital in London who had been staying at the Creta Maris beach resort with her partner and three-year-old son when the earthquake struck, told The Independent that she had been evacuated in case of a second earthquake.
The tremor prompted many people in Crete’s main city Heraklion to rush outdoors. Schoolchildren were told to leave their classrooms, gathering in schoolyards and town squares.”It felt quite strong and lasted many seconds,” a local mayor told Skai television.The Athens Geodynamic Institute said the quake’s magnitude reached 5.8 and its epicenter was 23 kilometers (14 miles) northwest of Arvi in southeastern Crete, at a depth of 10 km.Earlier, the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said the earthquake measured 6.5, while the United States Geological Survey (USGS) put it at 6.0. (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou, George Georgiopoulos Editing by Mark Heinrich)