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5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Greek capital of Athens, aftershock follows

Damage is seen on the bell tower of Church of the Pantanassa at the Monastiraki Square following an earthquake in Athens, Greece, July 19, 2019.  .
Damage is seen on the bell tower of Church of the Pantanassa at the Monastiraki Square following an earthquake in Athens, Greece, July 19, 2019. . REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake shook the Greek capital Athens on Friday, sending people running from buildings in panic, witnesses said.

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The European Earthquake Monitoring Centre recorded the quake’s epicenter at 22 km (14 miles) northwest of the city. Its website quoted a witness as saying the quake was “strong but fortunately not very long.”

Around 40 minutes later, a strong aftershock was felt.

People are seen on the Syntagma Square following the evacuation of nearby buildings after an earthquake in Athens, Greece, July 19, 2019.
People are seen on the Syntagma Square following the evacuation of nearby buildings after an earthquake in Athens, Greece, July 19, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

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

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Reuters correspondents saw people evacuating tall buildings in the sprawling city, and hundreds crammed into Athens’s central Syntagma Square. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Seismologist Manolis Skordilis told Greece’s Star TV: “The earthquake was close to the surface, which is why it was felt so much.”

The shock was caught live in the studios of state broadcaster ERT.

A police officer stands on a street next to a damaged car following an earthquake in Athens, Greece, July 19, 2019.
A police officer stands on a street next to a damaged car following an earthquake in Athens, Greece, July 19, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

 

A fire brigade official said there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, although there had been calls asking for help in rescuing people trapped in elevators.

Electricity and phone connections were intermittent.

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

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With files from The Associated Press