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Powerful magnitude 6.3 earthquake strikes Greek holiday island of Crete 

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A powerful magnitude 6.3 earthquake has rocked Crete today – two weeks after another tremor killed a man on the Greek island and damaged hundreds of buildings.  

A tsunami alert was issued and witnesses reported feeling a ‘massive tremor’ at 12.24pm local time (9.24 am GMT) with houses shaking side to side after the quake struck 31 miles south-east of the port town of Sitia.

A church collapsed and officials reported landslides while seismologist Gerasimos Papadopoulos predicted small waves on the southern coast and urged people to move away from the shores.  

Magnitude 4.1 and 4.5 quakes – believed to be aftershocks – took place minutes later, the Geodynamic Institute in Athens said.

Police and fire crews are checking buildings in eastern Crete for damage following the tremor, which had a depth of 6.2 miles and was felt as far as the coast of Turkey and on Cyprus, more than 310 miles to the east.

A church collapsed (pictured) and officials reported landslides while seismologist Gerasimos Papadopoulos predicted small waves on the southern coast and urged people to move away from the shores

A church collapsed (pictured) and officials reported landslides while seismologist Gerasimos Papadopoulos predicted small waves on the southern coast and urged people to move away from the shores

The earthquake shook the shelves of supermarkets (pictured), causing smashed items to lay on the floor

The earthquake shook the shelves of supermarkets (pictured), causing smashed items to lay on the floor 

People ran out into the street on the Greek island of Crete after feeling the tremors of the 6.3 magnitude earthquake

People ran out into the street on the Greek island of Crete after feeling the tremors of the 6.3 magnitude earthquake

The epicentre was about 31 miles south-east of the port town of Sitia and was felt at 12.24pm local time (9.24 am GMT). The quake was at a depth of 6.2 miles (10km)

The epicentre was about 31 miles south-east of the port town of Sitia and was felt at 12.24pm local time (9.24 am GMT). The quake was at a depth of 6.2 miles (10km)

The quake was felt on Greek islands to the east of Crete, including Karpathos, Kassos and Rhodes.

‘The quake was felt all over the island, and it did cause concern because we are still feeling the aftershocks from the previous quake,’ Crete’s deputy regional governor, Yiannis Leondarakis, told Greece’s state-run radio.

Witnesses reported feeling a ‘massive tremor’ and said their houses shook side to side. 

One resident, from the town of Analipsi near Heraklion, reported to EMSC: ‘Massive tremor. The whole house shook side to side by at least 15 centimetres. It lasted about 20 seconds.’

Another person from the same town, which is 43 kilometres from the earthquake’s epicentre, said: ‘Long duration, even people driving felt it.’

Leondarakis said of Tuesday’s earthquake: ‘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.’ 

The quake was felt on Greek islands to the east of Crete, including Karpathos, Kassos and Rhodes

The quake was felt on Greek islands to the east of Crete, including Karpathos, Kassos and Rhodes

It comes just two weeks after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake killed a man, injured 10, and damaged hundreds of buildings on the island. 

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

The epicentre of the quake, which hit at 9:17am on 27 September, was 14 miles northwest of Arvi – roughly 153 miles southeast of Athens – and six miles deep, according to the Athens Geodynamic Institute. 

A damaged Greek Orthodox chapel after a strong earthquake in Arkalochori village in central Crete on September 27. One person was killed by falling debris while rescue workers seek to recover more from the rubble

A damaged Greek Orthodox chapel after a strong earthquake in Arkalochori village in central Crete on September 27. One person was killed by falling debris while rescue workers seek to recover more from the rubble

One person, identified as Iakovos Tsagarakis, 65, was killed by falling debris as he was working to restore the dome of the church of the Prophet Elias in Arkalochori which caved in during the quake.

His son was one of several others injured in the collapse, but he managed to escape and call the emergency services, though he suffered several broken bones according to Protothema.

The quake sent citizens rushing out into the streets to avoid being trapped, and triggered the evacuation of schools. Around 20 people have suffered injuries with several people thought to be trapped in rubble.  

Several aftershocks also struck the area, with the EMSC giving a preliminary magnitude of 4.6 for the strongest one. 

‘It’s an earthquake that we did not expect, for the moment there are aftershocks of 4.5’, said seismologist Efthymis Lekkas, who described the surprise quake as a ‘thunderbolt’. 

Greece is located on a number of fault lines, and is sporadically hit by earthquakes.

Last October, a magnitude 7.0 hit in the Aegean Sea between the Greek island of Samos and the city of Izmir in western Turkey.

Most of the damage was in Turkey, where 114 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured.

In Greece, two teenagers were reported dead on Samos.

This is a breaking news story, more to follow…  



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