October 18. 2021. 4:35

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One dead and nine injured as Crete struck by earthquake

Natural disaster management team members in action in the aftermath of an earthquake in Arkalochori, eastern Crete. Photograph: Nikos Chalkiadakis/EPA

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of at least 5.8 has struck the Greek island of Crete, killing one person and injuring several others.

Homes and churches were also damaged in the quake on Monday, which caused rock slides near the country’s fourth-largest city.

People were sent fleeing into the streets in the city of Heraklion, and schools were evacuated.

Repeated aftershocks rattled the area, adding to damage in villages near the epicentre.

The Athens Geodynamic Institute said the quake struck at 9.17am local time (6.17am Irish time), with an epicentre 246km south-southeast of the Greek capital Athens.

“This is not an event that occurred without warning. We have seen activity in this region for several months,” seismologist Gerasimos Papadopoulos said on Greece’s state broadcaster ERT.

“This was a strong earthquake, it was not under sea but under land and affecting populated areas.”

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) and the US Geological Survey gave a preliminary magnitude of 6.0, with an epicentre 7km north of the village of Thrapsano. The Athens Geodynamic Institute said it was 5.8.

It is common for different seismological institutes to give varying magnitudes for an earthquake in the initial hours and days after an event.

Greece’s Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Ministry said that according to reports from local authorities, one person had been killed and a further nine people suffered injuries.

The fire department said it was flying 30 members of its disaster response units with sniffer dogs and specialised rescue equipment to Crete, while all its disaster response units and the fire department services on Crete were placed on general alert.

At least nine aftershocks also struck the area, with the EMSC giving a preliminary magnitude of 4.6 for the two strongest ones.

Local media in Crete reported damage, with collapsing walls of old stone buildings in villages near the epicentre of the quake on the eastern part of the island.

“The earthquake was strong and was long in duration,” Heraklion mayor Vassilis Lambrinos told Antenna television.

“We have requested that schools are evacuated. The children are out in the playgrounds.”

International and domestic flights to Heraklion airport were not affected by the quake, while the region’s hoteliers association said there was no serious damage to any hotels in the area, which includes many popular holiday resorts. –AP