Dramatic videos emerged showing people running out of businesses and shops as Tuesday’s 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit the island of Crete.
The quake had a focal depth of 8.2 km (5.09 miles), and its epicenter was southeast of the city of Ierapetra. It was felt as far as the coast of Turkey and on Cyprus, more than 310 miles to the east, authorities said.
Magnitude 4.1 and 4.6 quakes that were believed to be aftershocks took place minutes later, the Geodynamic institute in Athens said. Authorities reported a swell in the sea level around the eastern Cretan port of Ierapetra and advised residents to stay away from the coast.
There were no reports of serious damage or injuries, but a small church near the epicenter, which was empty at the time of the quake, collapsed. Authorities said police and fire crews were checking remote villages in eastern Crete.
On September 27, one person was killed and several were slightly injured after an earlier, powerful 5.8 earthquake, rattled Crete.
Last October, an earthquake that struck the eastern Greek Aegean island of Samos and the nearby Turkish coast killed two people on Samos and at least 75 people in Turkey.
Seismologists say earthquake in Crete was likely the main one
Seismologist Efthymis Lekkas, who heads Greece’s Organization of Earthquake Planning and Protection (OASP), told state broadcaster ERT that the earthquake felt in the morning was the main one, not part of a lead up to a larger quake.
However, he noted that experts will have to wait two days for the post-earthquake sequence to play out.
He also noted that it did not come from the same epicenter as that which occurred in Arkalochori, in the region of Iraklio, on September 27.
The research director of the Geodynamic Institute, Gerasimos Houliaras, said a similar earthquake of the same magnitude or slightly smaller is very likely.
Disaster response units dispatched to Crete
Meanwhile, the Civil Defense Ministry dispatched disaster response units to Crete to help emergency services.
Teams of police, firefighters and other responders were active on the island identifying damaged buildings and infrastructure and any possible casualties from the powerful quake that set thousands of people scurrying from their homes.
According to the ministry, there were no reports of injuries, either on Crete nor on the nearby islands that also felt the tremor.
The Coast Guard was also mobilized to respond in the event that the undersea quake triggered a tsunami.
Damage was reported, particularly in the region of Sitia in southeastern Crete, while a small church has collapsed on the outskirts of the village of Xirokambos.
There were also reports of rockslides in many parts of the island.
The European Union announced on Tuesday that is ready to mobilize international help if necessary, following an earthquake on Crete, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said in a tweet on Tuesday.
“Following the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck the island of Crete, Greece this morning, the EU Emergency Response Coordination Centre has been in contact with the Greek civil protection authorities. We stand ready to mobilize international assistance, if necessary,” he said.
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