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Quake alert for Crete visitors

- by Dabs Banner

'beach holidaymakers told to stay calm'.

Late season holiday tourists in Crete have been told to remain calm as a series of earthquakes rocks the island of Crete. A tremor measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale hit western Crete yesterday afternoon and was felt as far away as Athens. No injuries were reported and only minor damage to buildings but locals and holiday tourists in Crete remain anxious as a series of smaller aftershocks ripple across the island.

The centre of the quake was reported as 70 km west of Chania on Crete and 40 km below the seabed.

Tremors were felt across the Cyclades islands and southern Greece, including the Peloponnese peninsula.

A Crete newspaper reports only one person injures, a resident of Chania who panicked and jumped off a first-floor balcony, landing on a car. Precautions included closing the popular tourist walking trail through the Samaria Gorge

Local media reported worried citizens in Chania rushing into the street but firefighters said there had been no serious damage and no emergency calls.

"The quake took place in an area known for its seismic activity. It was strongly felt in Crete but also in the rest of Greece," said geology professor Efthymios Lekkas.

Greek seismologists say there is "no cause of great concern" in the seismic prone zone around Crete but they cannot make any conclusions about whether this was the main tremor and if there are more to come.

"We will have to wait and see what happens. If nothing big happens within the first two days after a big tremor there is an 85% probability that this was the main quake," said Professor Costas Makropoulos of the Athens National Observatory.

Regular holiday visitors to the Greek islands will know that earthquake tremors are not uncommon but concern is growing at the numbers of reported tremors in the islands this year.

Crete has been particularly prone this summer with a couple of moderate 3.0 scale quakes off the island's southern coastline and a 5.6 shock in the sea south of Crete in June although no damage or casualties were reported.

Areas to be hit by quakes this summer include Thessaloniki on the mainland and the Ionian island of Kefalonia.

It makes for a summer holiday season on quite high seismic activity although it must be seen against a backdrop of Greece being the most earthquake prone country in Europe, accounting for half of all reported quakes.