A strong earthquake measuring 5.8 shook Greece’s largest island Crete on Monday and one person was killed when a church dome collapsed, authorities said.
The quake, which sent people out of their homes and public buildings and caused considerable damage, was described by a Greek seismologist, Efthymios Lekkas, as a “thunderbolt” with strong aftershocks.
A man died when the dome of a church in the town of Arkalochori caved in during renovation works, a police official said. Civil protection authorities said nine people were injured in the quake, which damaged many buildings.
The tremor prompted many people in Crete’s main city Heraklion to rush outdoors. Schoolchildren were told to leave their classrooms, gathering in schoolyards and town squares.
“It felt quite strong and lasted many seconds,” a local mayor told Skai television.
The Athens Geodynamic Institute said the quake struck at 9:17 a.m. (0617 GMT), with an epicenter 246 kilometers (153 miles) south southeast of the Greek capital, Athens.
“This is not an event that occurred without warning. We have seen activity in this region for several months. This was a strong earthquake, it was not under sea but under land and affecting populated areas,” seismologist Gerasimos Papadopoulos said on Greece’s state broadcaster ERT.
The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center and the U.S. Geological Survey gave a preliminary magnitude of 6.0, with an epicenter seven kilometers (four miles) north of the village of Thrapsano. The Athens Geodynamic Institute said it was 5.8. It is common for different seismological institutes to give varying magnitudes for an earthquake in the initial hours and days after an event.
Earlier, the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said the earthquake measured 6.5, while the United States Geological Survey (USGS) put it at 6.0.