Wednesday, May 11, 2011

At least 10 dead after two earthquakes strike Spanish town By Lewis Smith

 At least 10 people were killed and dozens more injured when two earthquakes struck a historic town in the south-east of Spain within two hours of each other.

                                                                                                                  AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Several buildings in Lorca collapsed after the 4.4 and 5.2 magnitude earthquakes.

 Rescue workers were last night sifting through the rubble of collapsed houses in the town of Lorca to establish if anyone was trapped inside.
 One child was reported to be among the dead and authorities ordered the evacuation of a hospital in case of further tremors.
 The earthquakes, with magnitudes of 4.4 and 5.2, struck in the afternoon and early evening, causing the streets to be showered with large chunks of masonry. Most of the deaths and injuries are thought to have been caused by the second, larger quake.
 Historic churches and public buildings were among structures damaged and, several hours after the quakes, part of a church collapsed, narrowly missing a television journalist.
 Officials were concerned that more damage could be sustained in aftershocks, so set aside a park and provided blankets, food and water for residents to spend the night in safety.
 "Unfortunately, we can confirm... deaths due to cave-ins and falling debris," said Francisco Jodar, the mayor of Lorca. "We're trying to find out if there are people inside the collapsed houses."
 A spokesman for the Murcia regional government said: "The population is scared and are very afraid to return to their homes. The whole of the centre of Lorca has been seriously damaged. There are thousands of very disorientated people."
 Spain's Deputy Prime Minister, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, is scheduled to travel to the town today to examine the damage and speak to locals.
 One woman told Spanish national radio: "We were just sat here and everything began to move. Pictures fell from the wall, the TV fell and (the quake) went on for ages. We looked out of the window and there were a lot of people running."
 As well as the emergency services, psychologists were sent to the area to help traumatised residents.
 Lorca has a population of 90,000 and the old part of the town is a network of narrow alleyways. It dates back to the Bronze Age and its historic features include a Roman military column and medieval walls. John Bellini, a seismologist with the US Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado, said the larger earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 5.3 on the Richter scale and struck 220 miles (350km) south-southeast of Madrid. It was estimated to have occurred at a depth of some six miles (10km).
 The last fatal earthquake to hit the country was in 1997, when one person was killed.


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