Greek quake kills two people, injures 125
Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Kato Achia, Greece, June 09 (bdnews24.com/Reuters) - An earthquake struck southern Greece on Sunday, killing two villagers, injuring 125 people and damaging dozens of homes, authorities said.

Panicked residents ran into the streets and some jumped from balconies when the quake, measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale, struck at 1525 local time (1225 GMT), 54 km (33 miles) south of the western port city of Patras.

The village of Kato Achaia near the epicenter appeared to be hardest hit by the tremor, which was felt as far away as Italy.

One man was found dead under a collapsed wall and an 80-year-old woman from a nearby village died in hospital of a heart attack after being injured.

A Reuters witness said about half a dozen old houses at the entrance of the village had collapsed and one church had visible damage.

Aftershocks were continuing, with many residents in the region set to spend the night outdoors and in cars, too scared to return to their residences.

"Everyone is out, sitting in the village squares, while firefighters and emergency services are everywhere," said Reuters photographer Yiorgos Karahalis.

Greek television showed villagers rummaging through rubble trying to find belongings, while more were shown wandering the streets in disbelief and fear.

"I was so scared. I've never felt anything like this before," Patras student Vassilis Lambropoulos told Reuters by phone. "We rushed into the street and bits and pieces were falling off buildings."

GIRL RESCUED

At least four people, including a 9-year-old girl who had been trapped among collapsed houses, were rescued soon after the quake, officials said.

Most of those hospitalized had scrapes and bruises but no serious injuries, authorities said. The Tourism Ministry said there were no foreigners reported among the injured and there was no damage to hotels.

"My thoughts are with our fellow citizens who are suffering," said Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who was cutting short a trip to Vienna because of the quake.

About 50 homes were destroyed and 160 damaged, police said. The army was sending 300 tents to the area for about 240 locals whose homes were declared unfit.

The national Athens-Patras highway was briefly cut off after a landslide caused by the quake and the main control tower of an air force base in the nearby town of Andravida was damaged.

"We will definitely have more aftershocks ... but people should not panic and they should listen to local authorities," Athens Geodynamical Institute director Gerassimos Papadopoulos told reporters.

The quake was felt in Athens, where 143 people were killed in a 1999 earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale. Greece is often rattled by quakes, most causing no serious damage.
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