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As Fire Burns Samos Refugee Camp, Earthquake Shock Hits Island

November 11, 2020

As another fire burned tents in a refugee and migrant detention camp on the island of Samos, within sight of Turkey's coast, an earthquake hit it again, days after a first one devastated buildings there.

The fire department said the blaze, which broke out early Nov. 11, was small and put out by a team of 18 firefighters using nine vehicles,  but there were no reports of injuries and damage was said to be slight.

Many of the tents are packed closely together in the overcrowded camp, and camping gas cannisters the residents use for cooking caused small explosions.

It wasn't immediately clear what caused the fire. More than 3,800 people live in and around the Samos camp, a facility originally built to house just under 650.

In September, a series of fires destroyed Greece’s largest refugee camp, Moria, on the nearby island of Lesbos, leaving more than 10,000 people in need of emergency shelter. Greek authorities had said those blazes had been deliberately set by a small group of the camp’s residents protesting isolation and lockdown orders imposed after a coronavirus outbreak in the camp.

Greece is one of the main routes into the European Union of people fleeing poverty and conflict in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The vast majority head to eastern Greek islands from the nearby Turkish coast.

The earthquake had a preliminary magnitude 4.2, and the Athens Geodynamic Institute said the undersea quake occurred at 8.49 a.m. It was centered 13 kilometers (8.077 miles) off the island’s northeastern coast.

Two teenagers were killed after a 6.3 magnitude quake struck the island on Oct. 10 while also striking Turkey where the death toll and damage was far higher.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)

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