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Powerful earthquake strikes Crete

Powerful earthquake strikes Crete
‘The quake was felt all over the island’, the regional governor reported

An earthquake measuring 6.3 magnitude has hit the Greek holiday island of Crete, just three weeks after another shock killed a man and damaged hundreds of buildings.

The Geodynamic Institute in Athens said that the earthquake had occurred undersea off the eastern coast of the island. A tsunami alert has been reportedly issued by the Earthquake Planning and Protection Organisation but officials were keen to stress that the warning was “nothing alarming”.

There were no immediate reports of any damage or injuries but authorities said that police and fire crews were checking buildings in eastern Crete for damage. CCTV of the quake, from inside stores on the island, shows products crashing to the floor from display stands and employees running out of buildings to safety.

Magnitude 4.1 and 4.5 quakes, believed to be after shocks, took place minutes after, according to the Geodynamic Institute.

One Brit in Crete said all was fine following the earthquake, adding that it felt like a “weird swaying of the ground”. She said: “Friends who live on Kos felt it too. It was centred just off Crete apparently.”

Writing on the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre website, one resident, from the town of Analipsi near Heraklion, said: “Massive tremor. The whole house shook side to side by at least 15 cms. It lasted about 20 seconds.”

Another resident of the same area said: “Long duration, even people driving felt it.” The earthquake was also felt on Greek Islands to the east of Crete, including Karpathos, Kassos and Rhodes.

Crete’s deputy regional governor, Yiannis Leondarakis, told Greece’s state-run radio that “the quake was felt all over the island”. He added: “It did cause concern because we are still feeling the aftershocks from the previous quake.

“Fortunately there does not appear to be any serious damage despite the fact that it was a strong event and occurred at a shallow depth.”

Deputy director of the Geodynamic Institute, Vassilis Karastathis, explained the tsunami warning to Greek media, saying: “There is always an announcement when there is a strong earthquake in the sea… with a tsunami we don’t have time to wait until we see all the data from the warning systems, so we sending out the announcement for good or for bad.”

Schools were closed from around midday, local time, on Tuesday because of the earthquake. A statement read: “Due to the large magnitude of the earthquake, large aftershocks are most likely expected. School principals are kingly requested to ensure the safe departure of students by activating the relevant protocols.”

Videos showed traffic jams outside schools as children were evacuated and parents came to pick them up.

Hundreds of people from villages south of the island’s largest city, Heraklion, remain homeless following a 5.8-magnitdue quake that struck on September 27.

The September tremor killed one person, identified locally as Iakovos Tsagarakis, 65, after the dome of the church he was working to restore fell in.

His son was one of the several others injured but he managed to call emergency services for help, according to Protothema.