Greece: 5.1-magnitude earthquake shakes Athens, knocks out phone service

AFP Athens, Greece Jul 19, 2019, 05.45 PM(IST)

Greece flag (Picture courtesy: Pexels) Photograph:( Others )

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The quake struck at around 1100 GMT at a depth of 13 kilometres, news reports said.

A strong, shallow earthquake jolted Athens on Friday, knocking out phone and cellphone service and sending worried residents rushing into the streets, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

According to the Greek geodynamic institute, it was a 5.1-magnitude quake with an epicentre 23 kilometres northwest of Athens and was followed by aftershocks.

The quake struck at around 1100 GMT at a depth of 13 kilometres, news reports said.

Worried residents and office staff have crowded outdoor areas but the government denied it had ordered an evacuation alert.

The fire department rescued over a dozen people trapped in elevators in the capital, state broadcaster ERT said.

"People must remain calm," said Efthymios Lekkas, head of the state anti-quake protection agency.

"There is no reason for concern. The capital's buildings are built to withstand a much stronger earthquake," he told ERT.

The epicentre was near the area where a 5.9-magnitude quake left 143 people dead in and near Athens in 1999.

The US geological institute said Friday's quake had a magnitude of 5.3.

"For the time being we cannot be sure whether this was the main earthquake," seismologist Gerassimos Papadopoulos told ERT.

"There have been at least three (smaller) aftershocks already, which is a positive sign," he said, adding that the quake was felt as far as the Peloponnese islands.

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

News media reported electricity outages but said internet connections were still operating.

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

In July 2017, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake killed two people on the island of Kos in the Aegean sea, causing significant damage.