Quake hits Athens, Greece

Athens earthquake

A strong natural disaster has hit near the Greek capital of Athens, causing residents to run into the streets in fear.

The quake was registered at 5.1 magnitude with an epicentre about 22km (14 miles) from Athens.

Efthymios Lekkas, head of the state anti-quake protection agency, told ERT that Athenians should not be concerned because "the capital's buildings are built to withstand a much stronger natural disaster".

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.

The European Earthquake Monitoring Centre recorded the quake's epicentre at a point 22 km (14 miles) northwest of the city. The U.S. Geological Survey reported a magnitude of 5.3.

He added that firefighters were evacuating people stuck in elevators across the city, where at least two abandoned buildings collapsed.

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Efthymios Lekkas, head of the state anti-quake protection agency, said there was no reason for alarm.

The most powerful quake to hit the Greek capital in the last 20 years came in 1999, when a temblor of magnitude 6.0 caused extensive damage and killed more than 140 people.

Multiple earthquakes in the same area followed ranging from 2.5 to 3.2 on the Richter scale.

Seismologists say the quake was around 13km (8 miles) from the surface, and its proximity was the reason why it was felt strongly. "But we need more time and data to have a clear picture".

It struck at around 1100 GMT at a depth of 13 kilometres, it said. "The capital's buildings are built to withstand a much stronger quake", he told ERT.

Earthquakes are common in Greece and neighboring Turkey.

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