Athens residents flee buildings as strong natural disaster hits Greek capital

Clay Curtis
July 19, 2019

A strong quake has shaken the Greek capital of Athens, knocking out telecoms and power in parts of the city.

The Athens Institute of Geodynamics gave the natural disaster a preliminary magnitude of 5.1 but the U.S. Geological Survey gave it a preliminary magnitude of 5.3.

People are seen on the Syntagma Square following the evacuation of nearby buildings after an quake in Athens, Greece, July 19, 2019.

Anxious residents and office staff have crowded outdoor areas but the government denied it had ordered an evacuation alert. There were reports that the fire service rescued over a dozen people trapped in elevators, following the power outage. "The capital's buildings are built to withstand a much stronger quake", he told ERT.

The Civil Protection Authority said there was no immediate word on injuries or damages, but that police and volunteers north of the capital were carrying out searches for possible damage.

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In 1999, a 5.9-magnitude quake left 143 people dead in Athens and the region northwest of the capital.

The Institute said there had been seven aftershocks, with the largest measuring 3.1.

"People in the capital must remain calm. they must be psychologically ready for more aftershocks", he said.

Greece lies on major fault lines and is regularly hit by earthquakes, but they rarely cause casualties.

In 1999, the area of the epicenter, at the foot of Mount Parnitha, produced a 5.9 magnitude natural disaster that killed 143 people.

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