PREVEZA, Greece — An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.6 struck northwestern Greece in the early hours of Saturday, causing damage to buildings but no reported injuries.
The Athens Geodynamic Institute said the quake occurred at 2:49 a.m. local time (0049 GMT), with an epicenter 11 kilometers (7 miles) from the western seaside town of Parga, and 316 kilometers (196 miles) west northwest of the capital, Athens.
Local media said the quake sent people running into the street, while several old and uninhabited houses were reported to have collapsed in the nearby village of Kanalaki. Less severe damage was also reported in newer houses, with broken windows and plaster falling off walls.
The tremor was strongly felt throughout Thesprotia, Preveza and Corfu, where people were alarmed and many quit their homes. It was also felt in Ioannina, Arta and the surrounding regions.
As the Corfu police informed the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, the quake caused no damage on Corfu, despite being strongly felt, but there are reports of serious problems in Kanalaki. There have also been landslides and rockfalls on the rural road network and the area had a power cut, with electricity restored at around 4:00 in the morning.
Local authority officials are now visiting villages in order to assess the situation there after the quake.
In a post on Facebook, the head of research at the Athens Geodynamic Institute, Gerasimos Houliaras, said the institute was monitoring the development of the powerful earthquake via its seismological network. He also noted that “an earthquake in western Greece had been expected given the foreshocks in Parga and Karditsa in recent months and I do not foresee this progressing to a bigger magnitude at this time, do not worry.”
According to Prof. Efthymios Lekkas, head of the Anti-Seismic Planning and Protection Organisation (OASP), “we are at the peak of the phenomenon. It concerns us that it started low, at 4.2 Richter around midnight, and reached 5.6 Richter at 2:49 in the morning.”
“We are monitoring the phenomenon and for the time being we are being cautious,” he added. According to Prof. Lekkas, the epicentre was 20 km northeast of Parga and came from the well-known rift of Paramythia.
Greece is located in a highly seismically active area and experiences hundreds of quakes each year. The vast majority are small and do not cause damage or injuries.