Published: Fri, July 19, 2019

5.1 magnitude quake hits near Greek capital of Athens, aftershock follows

5.1 magnitude quake hits near Greek capital of Athens, aftershock follows

A strong natural disaster has hit near the Greek capital of Athens, causing residents to run into the streets in fear.

Reports on Friday gave a preliminary 5.1 magnitude, saying the tremor at 14:13pm (11:13 GMT) lasted for at least 15 seconds.

The fire department rescued dozens of people trapped in elevators in the capital, state broadcaster ERT said.

There are no immediate reports of serious damage or injuries but several aftershocks were felt.

Reuters correspondents saw people evacuating tall buildings in the sprawling city, and hundreds crammed into Athens's central Syntagma Square.

Seismologists say the natural disaster was around 13km (8 miles) from the surface, and its proximity was the reason why it was felt strongly.

A police officer stands on a street next to a damaged auto following an quake in Athens, Greece, July 19, 2019.

The head of the anti-quake protection agency, Efthymios Lekkas, told Greeks to remain calm. "The capital's buildings are built to withstand a much stronger quake", he told ERT.

The epicentre was reported as being 23km northwest of Athens.

The US geological institute said Friday's quake had a magnitude of 5.3.

In 1999, a 6.0 magnitude natural disaster struck the Greek capital, killing at least 143 people and causing over 100 buildings to collapse.

A police officer stands next to a damaged vehicle following an quake in Athens, Greece, on July 19, 2019. "But we need more time and data to have a clear picture".

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