Quake kills two, destroys tens of homes

At least two people were killed and more than 100 injured yesterday when the worst earthquake to hit Greece in almost 10 years struck in the northwestern Peloponnese, destroying a number of houses and spreading panic across much of the country. The tremor, measuring 6.5 Richter, struck at 3.25 p.m. and was felt in most parts of Greece, as well as southern Italy. Its epicenter was near the town of Andravida in western Achaia, some 60 kilometers from the city of Patras. The quake caused damage to dozens of older properties in the area. A 55-year-old man, Andreas Bakoulias, was killed in the village of Kato Achagia when the roof of his house collapsed on top of him. An 80-year-old woman, Marina Petropoulou, was slightly injured during the quake but died from a heart attack while on the way to the hospital. According to information that had been collected by authorities as of last night, 108 people had suffered injuries but none was life threatening. Many of the injured were reported to have suffered broken limbs as some people jumped from balconies or windows when the quake struck. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said that dozens of buildings had collapsed. Television pictures showed a nine-year-old girl being pulled from the rubble of her home in the village of Fostaina. She suffered minor injuries. It was reported that her parents, brother and grandmother managed to flee the property before it collapsed. The fire service said that part of the Corinth-Patras national road was cut off because of a landslide. Some train services around Patras were cancelled. The quake brought thousands of residents in the Peloponnese and parts of central Greece out of their homes as they gathered in town and village squares, awaiting news of the tremor’s magnitude. A number of strong aftershocks, including one measuring 4.7 Richter were felt soon afterward. Seismologists said that the 6.5 quake was likely to have been the main one but advised people whose homes had been damaged to sleep elsewhere overnight. Teams of civil engineers were dispatched to check the safety of buildings, particularly schools, in the area. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who was on an official trip to Austria, instructed authorities to immediately disburse aid of 3,000 euros to people who had lost their homes. Yesterday’s quake appears to have been the most destructive to hit Greece since 1999, when a 5.9-magnitude tremor near Athens killed 143 people and left thousands homeless.