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Buildings Seriously Damaged After Earthquake Rocks Athens

On Friday a magnitude 5.3 earthquake hit near the Greek capital of Athens and was felt across Southern Greece.

The Athens Institute of Geodynamics gave the earthquake a preliminary magnitude of 5.1 but the U.S. Geological Survey gave it a preliminary magnitude of 5.3. The Athens Institute says the quake struck at 2:13 p.m. local time about 13.7 miles north of Athens.

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Firefighters search for trapped people at a partly demolished structure following an earthquake, at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, July 19, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

The quake sparked limited power cuts and communication problems around Athens and the fire brigade reported receiving calls about people being trapped in elevators. The shock was caught live in the studios of state broadcaster ERT.

Authorities inspected areas close to the epicenter by helicopter and police patrols but no deaths or serious injuries were reported.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said one abandoned building had collapsed in a western district of Athens and that several other abandoned buildings had suffered serious damages in other parts of the city.

A woman walks past damaged buildings in city's downtown following an earthquake in Athens, Greece, July 19, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

"There are no reports of serious injuries ... I urge members of the public to remain calm, in Greece we are well acquainted with earthquakes," he said.

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.

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Gerasimos Papadopoulos, the senior seismologist at the Geodynamics Institute said Friday's quake was felt across southern Greece.

"It had a very shallow depth and that's why it was felt so strongly," he said. "It is too early to say whether this was the main earthquake, but there have been aftershocks of magnitude 3.5, 2.5 and 3.2 and that is encouraging. But we need more time and data to have a clear picture."

Firefighters look at a damaged abandoned building following an earthquake, in Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, July 19, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

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Earthquakes are common in Greece and neighboring Turkey.

The head of the anti-quake protection agency, Efthymios Lekkas, told Greeks to remain calm, BBC News reported. "There is no reason for concern. The capital's buildings are built to withstand a much stronger earthquake," he said.

Feature Image: REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis