Big quake warnings rebuffed

Seismologists yesterday dismissed as groundless warnings of an imminent strong earthquake in Greece, blaming the statements of a certain geologist as well as general scaremongering on blogs and by word of mouth. The experts' reassurances yesterday came as a strong undersea earthquake, measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale, occurred off Kalamata in the Peloponnese. The tremor, which happened shortly before 1 p.m. and caused no casualties or damages, was the latest in a string of quakes in the area. The director of Athens's Geodynamic Institute, Giorgos Stavrakakis, said yesterday's quake was probably an aftershock from a 6.7 tremor on February 14. «It is a natural development - metaseismic activity may last for weeks,» he said. As for rumors about an imminent quake, Stavrakakis called them «irresponsible... and groundless.» Meanwhile, the General Secretariat for Civil Protection dismissed claims that state services were on the alert: «No order has been given for the civil protection mechanism to be activated, nor is there any reason for this,» a spokesman said.