Panic as strong quake shakes Athens
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Athens Panic as strong earthquake shakes

Athens (AFP) – A 5.1-magnitude earthquake shocked Athens on Friday, the epicenter of the earthquake was northwest of Athens, cracking out mobile connections, destructing buildings and causing power outages that made the residents panicked as they could. News media reported electricity outages but said internet connections were still operating. According to the Greek geodynamic institute, the quake had a 5.1-magnitude and its epicenter was near the town of Magoula, 23 kilometers (14 miles) northwest of Athens, and was followed by several aftershocks.  

State TV ERT reported that there were two people were physically injured — a pregnant tourist and a boy. The culture ministry said the pregnant tourist was visiting the National Archaeological Museum and was struck by another visitor rushing for the exit and the boy was struck by a falling chimney, ERT said. News channels also broadcast images captured and sent by viewers which also showed parked cars in central Athens damaged by fallen masonry.

Residents and workers quickly assembled in outdoor areas but the government denied it had ordered an evacuation alert. As reported, at least two abandoned buildings in the capital collapsed while others were severely damaged and cracks also were seen in some walls in Greece’s 170-year-old parliament building. Athens church had its cupola cross broke by the tremor, and a disused cargo conveyor belt at the port of Piraeus collapsed as shown on the TV footage. In the city center, the marble cupola cross of a historic 19th-century church crumbled on the street. The fire department rescued dozens of people trapped in elevators in the capital, ERT said.

“It was more like an explosion,” another woman told ERT on the city’s central Syntagma Square.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said there were no reports of serious injuries, and he added that phone networks had become “overcharged” by the sheer number of users calling to check up on friends and family. SKAI TV said there were 20,000 calls per second, more than on New Year’s Eve.

Seismologist Gerassimos Papadopoulos told ERT, “For the time being we cannot be sure whether this was the main earthquake,”

“There have been at least three (smaller) aftershocks already, which is a positive sign,” 

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

Earlier this month, seven people died and at least 23 were injured — most of them tourists — as a fierce storm ripped through beachfront in Halkidiki, one of Greece’s top tourist areas on July 10. And in July 2017, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake killed two people on the island of Kos in the Aegean sea, causing significant damage.

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