NEWS

Quakes shake central Greece

A series of moderate earthquakes shook central Greece yesterday, unsettling residents and causing widespread minor damage but no injuries. The first quake, measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale and with an epicenter south of Lake Trichonida, in the prefecture of Aitoloacarnania, occurred just before 2.30 a.m. It was followed by a 5.4-force quake shortly after 6 a.m. and then by a series of three tremors, measuring 5.2, 5.0 and 5.4 on the Richter scale, in quick succession at about 10.15 a.m. The sixth quake, measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale, struck the area shortly before 2 p.m. and was followed by dozens of aftershocks. The tremors, which are believed to have had the same epicenter, were felt across central and western Greece, prompting alarmed residents of Mesolongi, Agrinion and other towns and villages to rush out onto the streets. The quakes damaged around 70 homes and two schools in Aitoloacarnania and disrupted the water supply in some areas. Teams of civil engineers have been dispatched to inspect the extent of the damage caused to buildings and infrastructure, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said after briefing Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. Seismologists yesterday advised calm. «The first 48 hours are critical and will allow us to reliably assess developments,» said Giorgos Stavrakakis, director of Athens's Geodynamic Institute. Vassilis Papazachos of Thessaloniki's Aristotle University, stressed that the region did not have a history of strong quakes. «We do not expect an earthquake stronger than 6 on the Richter scale,» he said. But locals remained nervous. «We are not used to this. We are all scared and hoping that things don't get worse,» the mayor of Makryneia, Vassilis Karakostas, told Kathimerini.

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