Powerful earthquake shakes Athens

Crowds gathered in open areas in Athens after the earthquake struck
Crowds gathered in open areas in Athens after the earthquake struck (EPA/BBC) 

(Excerpted from BBC) A strong earthquake has shaken the Greek capital of Athens, knocking out phone networks and power in parts of the city.

The earthquake was registered at 5.1 magnitude with an epicentre about 22km (14 miles) north-west of Athens.

Athenians ran out into the streets and evacuated tall buildings as the tremor shook the capital for some 15 seconds.

There were no reports of serious injuries but several aftershocks have been felt.

The strongest shock was of 4.3 magnitude, almost an hour after the initial quake hit at 14:13 (11:13 GMT).

The earthquake was particularly felt in the centre of Athens. There were reports that the fire service rescued over a dozen people trapped in elevators, following the power outage.

Residents posted footage on social media of the impact of the quake.

A woman was slightly hurt by falling plaster and an empty building collapsed, according to Greek reports. Other buildings were also damaged.

The head of the anti-quake protection agency, Efthymios Lekkas, told Greeks to remain calm.

“There is no reason for concern. The capital’s buildings are built to withstand a much stronger earthquake,” he said.

Seismologists say the earthquake was around 13km (8 miles) from the surface, and its proximity was the reason why it was felt strongly.

The earthquake is the first to hit the Greek capital since September 1999 and experts say it was very close to the same epicentre, at Mt Parnitha. That magnitude 6 quake left 143 people dead and tens of thousands of buildings damaged.