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Strong earthquake hits Greek island

Two people are reported to have died after a strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of at least 6.1 hit the western Greek island of Lefkada.

The quake was felt across western Greece, with people on Lefkada and the nearby Ionian Sea island of Kefalonia rushing out onto the streets.

The fire department said it was sending crews to Lefkada to assess the situation and help clean-up efforts.

The Athens Geodynamic Institute said the undersea quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.1 and occurred at 9.10am (7.10am GMT) off Greece's western mainland, about 300 kilometres (186 miles) west of Athens.

The US Geological Survey put the preliminary magnitude at 6.5. Different agencies often have varying preliminary magnitudes in the hours and sometimes days after a quake.

The fire department said an 82-year-old woman was killed in the village of Athani when a wall collapsed on her, while the regional governor's office said they had received a "credible report" of a second fatality.

The island's network of mountainous roads was damaged by landslides, with schools shut on both Lefkada and Kefalonia as a precaution.

Ionian Islands regional governor Theodoros Galiatsatos said on state-run television ERT that authorities were waiting for more detailed information from the fire department.

Aftershocks were also hitting the island - including one with a 5.2 magnitude more than an hour after the main quake - and Galiatsatos called on residents to avoid any structures that appeared damaged until authorities could assess their safety.

Earthquakes are common in Greece, which is one of the world's most seismically active areas, though serious injuries and deaths are rare.

A severe quake near Athens in 1999 killed 143 people, and caused extensive damage through the Greek capital.


From Belfast Telegraph