Wednesday 23rd April 2014
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Earthquake hits Kefalonia

more than two dozen aftershocks reported

A state of emergency has been declared on the holiday island of Kefalonia after more than two dozen seriously large aftershocks followed a major earthquake tremor at the weekend.

Scientists reported an initial quake of 5.9 on the Richter Scale with the epicentre located just a couple of kilometres off the coast of the island capital at Argostoli.

Ruined villa from 1953 quake

Some of the aftershocks measured 5.2 on the Richter scale causing damage to some buildings although no serious injuries were reported.

Some parts of Kefalonia are still without electricity and roads have been blocked by landslides. Those with damaged homes have been warned to leave and find shelter elsewhere.

A passenger ferry with the capacity to host 700 passengers docked at the island to provide temporary homes to victims.

The Greek government has sent two ships to the island to offer temporary shelter for more than 2,000 of the island's inhabitants who are believed to be unable to return to their homes.

The strong quake shook the island at around 4pm on Sunday afternoon and was felt as far away as Athens, Albania and even southern Italy.

Scientist are concerned at the shallow depth of the quake, measured at only 17km below sea level. Shallow quakes of this size can cause considerable damage.

Islanders have been warned to expect more aftershocks and to be prepared to leave their homes if necessary.

There have been more than two dozen aftershocks registered mainly in the sea about 25km north-west of the first quake.

According to the latest updates nearly every building in the town of Lixouri has suffered some minor damage, and many, including schools, have suffered more serious damage, such as collapsed walls and roofs.

Reports of minor damage have come in from across the island, as well as the neighbouring island of Zante which lies about 50km to the south of Kefalonia.

Flights have been cancelled at the Kefalonia International Airport, near Argostoli, until the damage has been assessed.

Kefalonia is no stranger to strong earthquakes. The Ionian Sea is particularly prone to tremors and both Kefalonia and nearby Zante were devastated by a 7.2 quake in 1953 that razed many buildings across both islands.

Known as the Great 1953 Ionian Earthquake it struck the southern Ionian Islands in August 1953 after a month when more than 113 tremors were recorded in the region between Kefalonia and Zakynthos.

Earthquakes still regularly shake the islands of Zante and Kefalonia and there were several in 2003, 2005 and 2006.

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