Seismologists play down Athens quake

A moderately strong earthquake shook Athens, western Attica and the northern Peloponnese yesterday afternoon, originating from the same fault that caused a destructive quake 20 years ago. According to the Athens Geodynamic Institute, the earthquake, which occurred at 4.33 p.m., registered 4.7 on the Richter Scale – 4.9 according to the University of Patras – and had its epicenter 40 kilometers west northwest of Athens, near Porto Germeno at the eastern end of the Gulf of Corinth. No damage was reported. It was followed by several aftershocks. The same area – just 20 kilometers west of the Parnitha fault that caused the September 1999 earthquake in which 143 people were killed – was the epicenter of three earthquakes of between 6.3 and 6.7 on the Richter Scale in February and March 1981, which caused extensive damage in many parts of Athens. According to Geodynamic Institute seismologist Gerasimos Papadopoulos, the 1981 quake had activated a 40-50 kilometer long stretch of the fault. The 4.7-Richter quake came from more or less the same area, he told Kathimerini.