Strong earthquake shakes central Greece, felt in the Balkans


ATHENS, Greece (AP) – An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of up to 6.3 shook central Greece on Wednesday and was felt as far away as the capitals of neighboring Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro.

There were no immediate reports of injuries. Local officials reported some structural damage, mostly to old houses and buildings that saw the walls collapse or crack.

The earthquake sent people running from their homes and office buildings onto the streets of Larissa and Tyrnavos, the cities closest to the epicenter, which was 22 kilometers (13.7 miles) west-northwest of Larissa. Numerous aftershocks struck the area, with the most powerful having a preliminary magnitude of more than 5.0.

The earthquake occurred shortly after 12:15 pm (1015 GMT), according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center, which placed the preliminary magnitude at 6.2.

The United States Geological Survey and the Global Seismic Monitor Geofon put the preliminary magnitude of the earthquake at 6.3 while the seismological institute of the Aritotle University of Thessaloniki, in northern Greece, placed the magnitude at 6.0. It is common for magnitude estimates to vary shortly after an earthquake.

The seismologist of the Geodynamic Institute of Athens, Vassilis Karastathis, told reporters that the earthquake originated from a fault in the area that historically has not produced earthquakes of a magnitude much greater than Wednesday’s. He said post-earthquake activity seemed normal so far, but experts were monitoring the situation.

Nikos Gatsas, mayor of the city of Elassona, which lies north of the epicenter, told Greek state broadcaster ERT that the walls of old houses had collapsed in nearby villages and that a school in the village had been damaged. . All the students had been evacuated from the building and there were no injuries.

The fire department said it had received reports of damage to a home and school, while fire service and police patrolled the area. All local fire departments went on alert.

The Chief of the National Defense Staff and other civil defense officials, firefighters and politicians were heading to the area.

Greece is in a region of great seismic activity. The vast majority of earthquakes do not cause damage or injury.

Last October, an earthquake that struck the eastern Greek island of Samos in the Aegean Sea and the nearby Turkish coastline killed two high school students in Samos and at least 75 people in Turkey.

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