A 5.7-Richter quake that shook Cephalonia on Monday, just over a week after a separate tremor of 5.8 Richter caused damage to buildings and roads on the Ionian island, has raised concerns among experts that the spike in activity could trigger a bigger event in the future.
“This is an area that has been of concern to us and will continue to concern us, because it’s not over yet,” the head of the Geodynamics Institute in Athens, Maria Sachpatzi, told Kathimerini on Monday.
“We can’t say with any certainty whether this process has started putting pressure on another, deeper point of the tectonic plate east of the island. But we are on high alert since two quakes have already occurred and it appears that the seismogenic zone is opening up,” said Sachpatzi. “The plate is breaking up at different points and we cannot exclude the possibility that another part of it may be activated.”
According to the Geodynamics Institute, Monday’s quake struck at 5.08 a.m., 11 kilometers northwest of the port town of Argostoli.
“This is a separate fault, a continuation of the northern Ionian fault,” said the Geodynamics Institute’s research director Thanasis Ganas. “It is the fourth fault to become active during this period.”
There were no reports of casualties, though several people were said to have been injured.
Authorities were scrambling on Monday to assess the damage caused by the latest tremor while midway through a survey of that caused by the January 26 earthquake, which was also followed by dozens of aftershocks measuring up to 4.7 Richter.
Hundreds of residents returned to sleeping in public squares and on two ferry boats used as temporary shelter since last week after tentatively going back to their homes once they were deemed safe over the weekend.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Monday called on the armed forces to provide support, equipment and supplies to the island to help the relief effort, while the Health Ministry also dispatched teams to provide assistance in the event of a third large quake.