A strong 5.4-magnitude earthquake rocked northern Greece on Sunday near the country’s second city of Thessalonika, the National Observatory of Athens said.
The epicentre of the quake, which struck at 1150 GMT, was 23 kilometres (14 miles) south west of Orthodox spiritual centre Mount Athos at a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles), the observatory said.
There were no reports of victims or material damage.
Greece is highly susceptible to tremors, being situated on several geological faultlines.
In October 2020, a quake registering 7.0 struck in the Aegean Sea between the Greek island of Samos and Izmir in western Turkey, which bore the brunt with 114 deaths and more than 1,000 injured. In Greece, two youths died on Samos.
The impact of the quake was still being assessed, he added.
The intensity of the shaking sparked panic in many areas, with videos from some towns and villages shared on social media showing people running outside, some holding small children.
Streets were seen clogged with traffic as vehicles attempted to leave for safe locations.
The USGS placed the epicentre at a depth of 18.5 kilometres (11 miles), around 100 kilometres north of the Flores island town of Maumere, home to more than 80,000 people, where the quake disrupted coronavirus inoculations.
“People were receiving vaccines when the quake hit. They ran in panic,” said Maumere resident Yulius Tara.
“There were more than 200 people… and the (vaccination) event stopped because of the quake.”
Thousands in Maumere sought safety on higher ground, fearing a tsunami.
“We will stay here… because we are afraid of aftershocks,” said Husri Tamrin.
– ‘It was strong’ –
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the quake no longer posed a threat of tsunamis after earlier warning that such waves were possible within a 1,000-kilometre radius of the epicentre.
Indonesian authorities also lifted their tsunami warning.
“I was checking my phone when the quake hit. I felt it for 30 seconds. It was strong,” said Alwan, a resident of Buton in Southeast Sulawesi — one of the areas where the tsunami warning was issued.
Indonesia experiences frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions due to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity where tectonic plates collide that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
Among Indonesia’s history of deadly quakes is a devastating 9.1-magnitude tremor in 2004 that struck off the coast of Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including about 170,000 in Indonesia.
The Boxing Day tragedy was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.
In 2018, a powerful quake shook the island of Lombok and several more tremors followed over the next couple of weeks, killing more than 550 people on the holiday island and neighbouring Sumbawa.
Later that year, a 7.5-magnitude quake and a subsequent tsunami in Palu on Sulawesi island left more than 4,300 people dead or missing.
Rescue workers were scrambling to find survivors after a powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, killing at least 304 and toppling buildings in the disaster-plagued Caribbean nation still recovering from a devastating 2010 quake.
The epicenter of the shaking, which rattled homes and sent terrified locals fleeing for safety starting around 8:30 am (1230 GMT) Saturday, was about 100 miles (160 kilometers) by road west of the center of the densely populated capital Port-au-Prince.
Churches, businesses, schools and homes crumbled in the quake that trapped hundreds of victims under rubble and left at least 1,800 people injured, the country’s civil protection agency said.
Rescuers raced against the clock to find survivors, with the civil protection tweeting that efforts by “both professional rescuers and members of the public have led to many people being pulled from the rubble,” adding that already overburdened hospitals continue to receive injured.
Hours after the quake, the agency announced the death toll had jumped to 304, ticking upwards throughout the day from a first report of 29 fatalities.
The long initial quake was felt in much of the Caribbean, emanating from the epicenter at Haiti’s southwestern peninsula.
The civil protection said at least 160 people were killed in the country’s South department alone.
“Lots of homes are destroyed, people are dead and some are at the hospital,” 21-year-old Christella Saint Hilaire, who lives near the epicenter, told AFP.
Hospitals in the regions hardest hit by the quake were already struggling to provide emergency care and at least three were completely full, according to Jerry Chandler, head of the civil protection agency.
The health ministry quickly dispatched personnel and medicine to the southwestern peninsula, but their arrival could be hampered by insecurity that has for months plagued the poorest country in the Americas.
The United States and other nations swiftly pledged support to the crisis-wracked country, with US President Joe Biden approving “immediate” aid efforts and Haiti’s neighbor Dominican Republic shipping 10,000 food rations and medical equipment.
A medical brigade of 253 Cuban doctors deployed in Haiti was traveling to treat the injured and adapt a Port-au-Prince hospital until now used for Covid patients, their head said on Cuban television.
In Ecuador, Quito Fire Department said it was preparing to send a team of 34 personnel specialized in urban search and rescue. Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Peru and Venezuela also offered help while Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Haitians “can count on the support of Spain to come through this terrible event.”
Tennis star Naomi Osaka, whose father is Haitian, said she was going to donate her prize money from an upcoming tournament to help quake victims.
“Really hurts to see all the devastation that’s going on in Haiti, and I feel like we really can’t catch a break,” Osaka wrote on Twitter.
Images circulated on social media showed people frantically trying to pull people from the ruins of caved-in buildings, while screaming bystanders sought safety in the streets outside their homes.
“Houses and their surrounding walls have collapsed. The roof of the cathedral has fallen down,” resident Job Joseph told AFP from the hard-hit city of Jeremie on Haiti’s far western end.
Heavy damage was reported in the center of the city, which is home to around 200,000 people and composed primarily of single-story residences and buildings.
The damage in the city of Les Cayes appeared to be significant, including the collapse of a multi-story hotel.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who surveyed the damage via helicopter, declared a state of emergency for one month while calling on the nation to “show solidarity” and not panic.
‘People are terrified’
Shortly after the quake, the US Geological Survey issued a tsunami alert, but lifted the warning soon after.
Jeremie resident Tamas Jean Pierre said the possibility of a tsunami nonetheless sent parents “fleeing the city with their children in arms.”
“People are terrified,” she said.
A 7.0-magnitude quake in January 2010 left much of Port-au-Prince and nearby cities in ruins, killing more than 200,000 and injuring some 300,000 others.
More than 1.5 million Haitians were made homeless, leaving island authorities and the international humanitarian community with a colossal challenge.
Besides hundreds of thousands of homes, the quake also destroyed administrative buildings and schools, not to mention 60 percent of Haiti’s health care system.
The rebuilding of the country’s main hospital remains incomplete, and non-governmental organizations have struggled to make up for the state’s many deficiencies.
The latest quake comes just over a month after president Jovenel Moise was assassinated in his home by a team of gunmen, shaking a country already battling poverty, spiraling gang violence and Covid-19.
The USGS in an earlier bulletin put the epicentre two kilometres east of the neighbouring town of Magsaysay before revising the location to Bansalan.
The Philippines is regularly rocked by quakes due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
The region around Bansalan, a town of 60,000 people, was struck by three deadly quakes over a two-week period in October 2019, killing at least 10 people.
Albania’s prime minister said the country had been “wounded” by the violent earthquake this week that killed whole families and pulverised buildings, as he gave a new toll on Friday of 49 dead and 5,000 displaced.
The 6.4 magnitude quake that jolted Albania before dawn on Tuesday was the most deadly and destructive in decades.
Entire families were crushed by their homes while they were sleeping.
“We have all been touched and wounded” by the tragedy, said Prime Minister Edi Rama, his voice strained as he mentioned the death of a close friend of his son, a medical student whose body was found in the rubble with her brother and two parents.
The damage was most concentrated near the Adriatic coast in the port city of Durres and the town of Thumane, where scores of people were trapped beneath the wreckage of toppled apartments and hotels.
Loved ones and neighbours have watched in agony this week as rescue teams pulled corpses from the ruins.
On Friday the search effort wound down to focus on one or two sites in Durres, including a collapsed beach-side hotel.
Around 45 people were rescued from the ruins alive by relief teams, who were backed up by experts from around Europe with dogs, cameras and other equipment to comb through the rubble.
In Durres and Thumane, almost 2,000 people have been moved into hotels or other buildings — either because of severe damage to their homes or because hundreds of aftershocks made their apartments unsafe.
Another 3,480 people in the capital Tirana fled in panic to shelters, with some now housed in reception centres and many staying in the homes of relatives, Rama said.
There were no casualties in Tirana but nearly 70 buildings and 250 homes were damaged, he said.
Teams of experts are being organised to assess the risk of damaged buildings, said Defence Minister Olta Xhacka, who urged residents to leave any homes affected by the quake.
“The situation of buildings with damaged structures is as dangerous as on the first day, so don’t stay there, leave them,” she said.
Albania is one of the poorest countries in Europe and its urbanisation developed chaotically after the fall of communism in the 1990s.
A lot of construction has been done “without a building permit, without respecting rules… using non-standard materials,” local architect Maks velo told AFP.
The government has promised to build new houses for earthquake victims by 2020.
Donations in multiple currencies have poured in and are expected to exceed five million euros ($5.5 million), as well as $1.5 million, Rama said.
Indonesia is still reeling from a deadly tsunami at the end of December triggered by an erupting volcano in the middle of the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra islands that killed more than 400 people.
The vast Southeast Asian archipelago is one of the most disaster-hit nations on Earth due to its position straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide.
The tsunami was Indonesia’s third major natural disaster in six months, following a series of powerful earthquakes on the island of Lombok in July and August and a quake-tsunami in September that killed around 2,200 people in Palu on Sulawesi island, with thousands more missing and presumed dead.
The death toll from the earthquake that struck northwest Haiti over the weekend has risen to 17, with nearly 350 others injured, the interior ministry said Tuesday.
Nine people were killed in the coastal city of Port-de-Paix, the closest major town to the quake’s epicentre.
Seven more died in Gros-Morne, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) to the southeast and one was killed in the city of Saint-Louis du Nord, the ministry said.
Emergency personnel deployed to the quake zone have said roughly 7,800 homes were either destroyed or damaged in the 5.9-magnitude tremor, according to the authorities.
In Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, building codes are often not respected, meaning that an earthquake of even a moderate size can result in fatalities and level buildings.
The country’s Nord-Ouest department, where Port-de-Paix is located, is the worst-off part of Haiti, with many areas isolated due to the dire state of the roads.
The quake and several aftershocks were felt as far away as the capital Port-au-Prince, sparking fear among residents still reeling from the massive 2010 earthquake that left at least 200,000 people dead.
Nearly 2,000 bodies have been recovered from Indonesia’s disaster-ravaged Palu city, an official said on Monday, as the search for victims ended at a hotel destroyed in the powerful earthquake and tsunami.
The death toll from the twin disaster on Sulawesi island that erased whole suburbs in Palu has reached 1,944, said local military spokesman M. Thohir.
“That number is expected to rise because we have not received orders to halt the search for bodies,” Thohir, who is also a member of the government’s official Palu quake taskforce, told AFP.
Authorities have said as many as 5,000 are believed missing in two hard-hit areas since the September 28 disaster — indicating far more may have perished than the current toll.
Hopes of finding anyone alive have faded and the search for survivors amid the wreckage has turned to gather and accounting for the dead.
The disaster agency said the official search for the unaccounted would continue until October 11 at which point they would be listed as missing, presumed dead.
But rescuers called off the search Monday at Hotel Roa-Roa, which was reduced to a tangled mess of twisted rebar and smashed concrete by the force of the quake.
The hotel emerged as an early focus of efforts to extract survivors, with seven people pulled alive from its mangled ruins in the immediate aftermath.
But nobody else was saved as the days passed, and optimism faded as corpses surfaced from the wreckage.
“The SAR (search and rescue) operation at Hotel Roa-Roa has ended, because we have searched the entire hotel and have not found any more victims,” Bambang Suryo, SAR field director in Palu, told AFP.
Agus Haryono, another SAR official at the scene who confirmed the search was off, said 27 bodies were recovered from the hotel including three pulled from the debris Sunday.
Among the confirmed dead were five paragliders in Palu for a competition, including an Asian Games athlete and a South Korean, the only known foreign victim in the disaster.
Authorities believed the 80-room hotel was near capacity when the district was ravaged by a 7.5 magnitude quake and tsunami and estimated 50 to 60 people could be trapped inside.
Rescuers have struggled to extract bodies from the wreckage of Palu, a job made worse as mud hardens and bodies decompose in the tropical heat.
The government has said some flattened areas will be declared as mass graves and left untouched.
Balaroa resident Sarjono agreed with sealing off the obliterated neighborhood where vast numbers of bodies are believed trapped beneath the ruins.
“But only if they help us relocate elsewhere. If they don’t, where will we live?” the 50-year-old told AFP near the debris of his former home.
Gopal, whose aunt and uncle were missing in Balaroa, picked through wreckage knowing just days were left to find his loved ones.
“Even if they (search teams) stop looking, we will still try to find them ourselves,” said the 40-year-old who, like many Indonesians, goes by one name.
“When we can no longer do it ourselves, we leave it to Allah.”
Excavators and rescuers combed Balaroa on Monday, where a massive government housing complex was all but swallowed up by the disaster.
Officials say as many as 5,000 people were feared buried at Balaroa and Petobo, another decimated community.
Petobo, a cluster of villages, was subsumed when vibrations from the 7.5-magnitude quake turned the soil to quicksand — a process known as liquefaction.
Relief efforts have escalated to assist 200,000 people in desperate need. Food and clean water remain in short supply, and many are dependent entirely on handouts to survive.
Helicopters have been running supply drops to more isolated communities outside Palu, where the full extent of the damage is still not entirely clear.
The Red Cross said Monday it had treated more than 1,800 people at clinics and administered first aid to a similar number in the immediate disaster zone.
Indonesia sits along the world’s most tectonically active region, and its 260 million people are vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions.