Athens, Greece – A strong earthquake struck Friday near the Greek capital of Athens, causing residents to run into the streets of fear and firefighters to check that people were imprisoned in elevators. The Athens Institute of Geodynamics gave the earthquake a preliminary magnitude of 5.1, but the US geological survey gave it a preliminary magnitude of 5.3. The Athens Institute says the earthquake struck at 2:13. local time about 13.7 km north of Athens.
The quake triggered limited power outages and communication problems around Athens, and the fire service reported that they had talks about people being imprisoned in elevators. The shock was captured live in the studios by the state transmitter ERT.
Authorities inspected areas near the epicenter with helicopters and police patrols but no deaths or serious injuries were reported. Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said that an abandoned building had collapsed in a western district of Athens and that several other abandoned buildings had suffered serious damage in other parts of the city.
"There are no reports of serious injuries … I urge the citizens to stay, in Greece we are well acquainted with earthquakes," he said.
The most powerful earthquake to hit the Greek capital in The last 20 years came in 1999, when a temblor of size 6.0 caused extensive damage and killed more than 140 people.
Gerasimos Papadopoulos, senior seismologist at the Geodynamik Institute, said Friday's shake was known across southern Greece.
It had a very shallow depth and that was why it was so strong, "he said." It is too early to say whether this was the biggest earthquake, but there have been post-scales of the order of 3.5, 2.5 and 3.2 and it is encouraging. But we need more time and data to get a clear picture. "
Earthquakes are common in Greece and the neighborhood in Turkey.
The head of the anti-quake protection agency, Efthymios Lekkas, said the Greeks would remain calm, BBC News reported. "There is no cause for concern. Capital buildings are built to withstand a much stronger earthquake," he said.