Thursday, June 15, 2017

Greece Declares Emergency After Earthquake Hits Lesbos

JUNE 13, 2017

The New York Times

ATHENS — The Greek government declared a state of emergency on the island of Lesbos on Tuesday, the day after a strong earthquake struck the island, killing a woman, injuring several people and leaving hundreds of residents homeless.

The quake was centered in the Aegean Sea about nine miles south of Lesbos, an area that was on the front line of the migrant influx two years ago. It had a magnitude of 6.1, according to the Geodynamic Institute at the National Observatory of Athens. The quake struck about 3:30 Monday afternoon, local time, and was felt in neighboring Turkey, although no injuries were reported there.

Several hours after the earthquake, rescue workers pulled the body of a 43-year-old woman from the rubble of her home in the village of Vrissa on Lesbos. An additional 15 people were said to have minor injuries.

As a series of milder aftershocks rattled the island on Tuesday, the regional governor, Christiana Kalogirou, told Greek television that an estimated 800 people had been displaced and were being relocated. “What is most important now is people’s safety,” she said.

Vrissa, on the south side of the island, bore the brunt of the temblor, with more than 40 houses destroyed and 40 badly damaged. Hundreds of residents spent the night in a makeshift camp set up by the army in a soccer field before moving in the morning to hotels or to the homes of relatives.

Aid workers said there had been no damage or injuries at two refugee camps on the island. More than 3,500 migrants on Lesbos are awaiting the outcome of asylum applications, or deportation.

Speaking from Lesbos on Tuesday, the minister of public order, Nikos Toskas, said financial aid would be provided to those forced to abandon their homes. “An emergency allowance will be given to those who lost everything, who had to drop everything and leave,” he said.

Seismologists said on Greek television that the 48 hours after the quake was a critical period, and that while a stronger quake was unlikely, it could not be ruled out.

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