NEWS

Cephalonia declared a natural disaster zone

The Ionian island of Cephalonia was on Monday night declared a natural disaster zone after it was hit by two large earthquakes on January 26 and on Monday measuring 5.8 and 5.7 on the Richter scale respectively, as well as by dozens of aftershocks in the 4-5 Richter range.

Crews from the Technical Chamber of Greece and the Ministry of Infrastructure were midway through assessing buildings on the island that suffered damage in the first quake - among them schools, hospitals and a nursing home - before Monday's tremor.

The general secretary of public works, Stratos Simopoulos told Kathimerini that by Sunday some 1,800 buildings had been inspected on the island and that 750 of them were deemed dangerous.

"We will now have to inspect every building all over again, even those given the green light," Simopoulos said. "As far as Lixouri port is concerned, where the problems became worse [with Monday's earthquake], two experts with experience in port construction will be arriving on Tuesday to assess the damage."

The military will also be sending frogmen to inspect the underwater damage suffered at the port.

The Infrastructure Ministry, meanwhile, said that it will be providing residents who are currently sleeping in their cars, at public buildings deemed safe and on two specially dispatched ferry boats with temporary housing in the form of prefabricated and mobile homes, as the weather seems to be conspiring against the quake-hit islanders with low temperatures and rain.

Government authorities as well as church and citizens' groups have also started providing food and other aid to those whose homes are uninhabitable.

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