Cephalonia quake damage assessment being wrapped up

Just under a week after a 5.9-Richter earthquake hit the Ionian island of Cephalonia authorities are close to completing the first round of inspections to buildings damaged by Sunday’s tremor, which was followed by dozens of strong aftershocks.

“People are starting to return to their homes," Cephalonia Mayor Alexandros Parisis told Kathimerini. Hundreds of residents spent nearly a week sleeping outdoors or on two ferries dispatched to the island for this reason.

“Less than 1,000 people are still on the ships. They will be leaving gradually over the next few days,” Parisis added.

A report published on Friday by the Infrastructure Ministry, which is responsible for the inspections, said that 500 of 1,000 homes that have so far been assessed, most in the town Lixouri, just 2 kilometers from the earthquake’s epicenter, have been deemed uninhabitable.

The report added that six of the island’s 53 schools need to undergo repairs before children can return, while the general hospital at Lixouri will reopen within the next few days despite small cracks in its supporting pillars.

The Environment Ministry, meanwhile, on Friday announced a measure ensuring that owners of illegally built homes on Cephalonia and nearby Ithaca that have suffered damage will be granted an extension to pay a fee securing amnesty from demolition. The measure will be presented to Parliament in the next few days.