Strong quake in Peloponnese

A strong earthquake struck the northwestern Peloponnese and the island of Zakynthos just before dawn yesterday, leaving over 100 families temporarily homeless but causing no injuries. According to the Athens Geodynamic Institute, the 6.59 a.m. quake registered 5.8 on the Richter scale, with an epicenter under the seabed 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) southwest of the port of Kyllini in the prefecture of Elis, 230 kilometers west of Athens. Hundreds of buildings were damaged, mainly in the area of Vartholomio, a large village 6 kilometers inland, near Kyllini, and at least 10 houses were listed for demolition. Around 100 buildings were declared temporarily unsafe for habitation, while local schools were closed for the day. It was the first strong quake to hit the Vartholomio area since the 6-Richter earthquake of October 16, 1988, which caused extensive damage. Local residents complained yesterday that many buildings which had been repaired under state supervision following the 1988 quake had once again suffered severe damage. «Buildings in western Elis have been under constant stress since 1988, but the government has not addressed the problem properly,» National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) Professor Panayiotis Karydis told Kathimerini. Karydis heads the NTUA’s laboratory for anti-seismic technology. «At the time, engineers [who inspected the damage] drew up good studies, but the State’s Service for the Rehabilitation of Earthquake Victims prevented them from being carried out, to cut costs. But this is wrong in the long term. If a similar earthquake were to hit Athens, unfortunately we would see the consequences of that policy.» Five quakes measuring 4.3-5.1 Richter have occurred in the area since mid-September.