updated 4-10-01





  News Release

U.S. Department of the Interior

U.S. Geological Survey

PO Box 25046, MS 915
Denver, CO 80225

Release March 5, 2001

Contact Phone E-mail

Pat Jorgenson 650-329-4011 pjorgenson@usgs.gov

Heidi Koehler (303) 236-5446 hkoehler@usgs.gov

Also available on the Internet at:



With more than 35,000 estimated deaths from earthquakes in the first two months of 2001, it may seem like the earth is more restless than usual. Not so, according to scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) in Golden, Colo.

"While it's true that more people have died from earthquakes during the first two months of this year than in the last two years put together, the average number of earthquakes per month has stayed about the same," said USGS scientist Waverly Person. "Overall, earthquake activity isn't on the rise," said Person. "We're simply able to locate more lower magnitude earthquakes due to advances in the technology, and when a deadly quake occurs, those images of death and destruction come right into our living rooms on the evening news."

In January 2000, there were six "significant" earthquakes that were responsible for seven deaths. Significant earthquakes are defined by NEIC as "earthquakes with a magnitude of 6.5 or larger, or ones that caused fatalities, injuries or substantial damage." In January 2001 there were also six significant earthquakes, but the combined death toll from both the January 13 and February 13 earthquakes in El Salvador, and the January 26 quake in southern India is estimated at 30,000 to 40,000.

In February 2000 there were five significant earthquakes, with one death, whereas in February 2001 there were three significant quakes, with 325 deaths.

"Dense urban populations coupled with weak building structures near the epicenters are responsible for most of the fatalities, in any year," Person said. "The annual, long-term average is 10,000 deaths worldwide, but that figure varies greatly, from year to year. In 2000, for example, there were only about 225 people killed in earthquakes, whereas, fatalities totaled 8,928 in 1998, and 2,907 in 1997. The deadliest year of the 20th century was 1976, when at least 255,000 people, and perhaps more than 600,000, were killed after one quake rocked Tianjin (formerly Tangshan), China."

Person said a typical year for earthquakes consists of 18 major temblors (magnitude 7.0 to 7.9) and one great quake (8.0 or higher). During the first two months of 2001, there were seven earthquakes with magnitudes of 7.0 or higher, and two others with magnitudes of 6.8. The highest magnitude of any quake in February 2001 was the magnitude 7.3 in Southern Sumatra. Seattle suffered a magnitude 6.8 temblor on February 28, but no deaths were directly attributed to the earthquake, and damage, though extensive, was far less than it would have been in many cities of the world.

2-2-2 QUAKES

The greatest number of earthquake-related deaths this year has been in India, where as many as 30,000 people may have been killed due to the 7.7, January 26, earthquake. That number is estimated to go as high as 50,000. The death toll from the January 13, 7.7 quake in El Salvador and the February 13 magnitude 6.6 is estimated at around 1,169. Many of the El Salvadorans were killed when earthquake-triggered landslides crushed their homes.

The USGS estimates that several million earthquakes occur in the world each year. Many go undetected because they hit remote areas or have very small magnitudes. The USGS now locates about 50 earthquakes each day, or about 20,000 a year, with an average of 20 earthquakes per day in California. Real-time information about earthquakes can be found at <http://quake.wr.usgs.gov>.

Since 1973, the USGS has provided up-to-date earthquake information to emergency response and mitigation teams, government agencies, universities, private companies, scientists and the general public. This information includes determinations of the locations and severity of seismic events in the United States and throughout the world, including the rapid analysis of significant earthquakes on a 24-hour basis. Seismologists around the world use this information to increase their understanding of earthquakes and to better evaluate earthquake hazards. As the nation's largest water, earth and biological science and civilian mapping agency, the USGS works in cooperation with more than 2,000 organizations across the country to provide reliable, impartial, scientific information to resource managers, planners, and other customers. This information is gathered in every state by USGS scientists to minimize the loss of life and property from natural disasters, contribute to the sound conservation, economic and physical development of the nation's natural resources, and enhance the quality of life by monitoring water, biological, energy and mineral resources.






Date: 04/20/2000 7:22:27 AM Central Daylight Time

From: PRESGRAVE@neis.cr.usgs.gov

Sender: sedas@ghtmail.cr.usgs.gov


World Data Center A for Seismology

The following is from the United States Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center: Preliminary hypocenter for earthquake of 2000 Apr 20, NEW YORK: latitude 44.0 degrees north, longitude 74.3 degrees west, origin time 08 46 54.0 utc, depth shallow, magnitude 3.7 mbLg. The earthquake was felt in eastern New York and at Montpelier, Vermont. There have been no reports of damage. This is located in the same general area as a magnitude 5.1 earthquake on October 7, 1983, that caused minor damage and was felt in 12 U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces.

1-15-00 - CHINA QUAKES  5.9 AND 6.5
Minor Quake Jars Central Maine

.c The Associated Press

BANGOR, Maine (AP) -December 25, 99 -  Parts of Maine took ``Jingle Bell Rock'' a bit literally on Christmas Eve.

A ``very minor'' earthquake shook up residents of towns west of Bangor on Friday night. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

Preliminary data showed a magnitude of 2.9 - among the smallest quakes generally felt by people.

``It's a very minor earthquake - the lowest on the chart,'' said John Bellini, geophysicist for the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo.

The tremor occurred at 7:22 p.m. Friday, setting off a rash of calls to law enforcement agencies.

Bellini said the quake appeared to be centered about 25 miles west-northwest of Bangor.

AP-NY-12-25-99 0703EST

Full report from geologist James Berkland at



The Seismic Window of December 22, 1999 is constructed around a Super Syzygy.

This is my term for a day of extreme tidal forces that occurs once every several years, and this one seems especially significant, coming close to the millennium transition, and when two of the next three syzygies are near-perfect alignments (eclipses.)...

The master of tides, Dr. Fergus Wood (retired geophysicist/oceanographer from NOAA), has pointed out that at the winter solstice, the Sun is at the low point in the northern hemisphere, whereas the Moon is at its highest point in the sky.

This generates higher than normal solstitial tides. At the Golden Gate the tidal range of 8.9 feet on December 22nd has not been matched since January 1995, just before the catastrophic 7.2M Kobe Quake and the unrelated, but surprising 5.0M jolt in Seattle (the strongest there in 30 years.)

Because of these influences I am predicting, with 85% confidence, that between December 22-29, 1999 there will be:

1. 85% chance for 3.5-6.0M within 140 miles of San Jose.
2. 85% chance for 3.5-6.0M within 140 miles of L.A.
3. 85% chance for 3.0-5.0M in WA/OR
4. 85% chance for Major (7+M) somewhere in the world, probably in the Pacific Ring of Fire.

11-12-99 - DUZCE, TURKEY 7.2




Quake Uncovers New Active Fault in California


.c The Associated Press

PASADENA, Calif. (Oct. 18, 99) - A magnitude-7.0 earthquake that rocked California and the Southwest has propelled the U.S. Geological Survey to focus its attention on a fault line it previously had ignored.

The newly coined Lavic Lake fault, named for a dry lake bed near the Mojave Desert through which it broke ground, will now become one of the most studied in the next few years.

''We got a lot of information about this quake, a ton,'' USGS geologist Ken Hudnut said Sunday.

The temblor that struck at 2:46 a.m. Saturday near the remote desert town of Ludlow, caused minor injuries during a passenger train derailment. Light damage was reported elsewhere.

The quake occurred along a 25-mile-long fault geologists had partly mapped, hadn't researched and hadn't yet named.

Those tasks were low priority because of the fault's location. Other faults, such as San Andreas, are constantly monitored because they are located near heavily populated areas.

''We weren't going to do a lot of research along a fault that would only bother a rattlesnake,'' said Lucy Jones, a USGS seismologist.

Hudnut said the more geologists can learn about the physics of earthquakes, the more they can do to advise planners to avoid building on active faults and keep buildings already on them safer during temblors.

Other things they learned: The deadly 1992 Landers earthquake that hit the area near Big Bear Lake had a large effect on the Lavic Lake fault and could have hastened Saturday's quake.

Hudnut, who flew over the area with two colleagues in a helicopter to inspect the fault, said they marveled at the giant fissure that moved a dry river bed 12 feet to the side.

''It had wonderful surface rupture,'' he said. ''It was exciting for us. Most geologists study things that happened thousands of years ago. This is something that happened yesterday.''

The quake also was the first major event recorded on the TriNet quake data system, a network of 200 seismographic stations that measure quake intensity and other properties. The system and stations are linked by computer.

''We had all this equipment in place,'' Jones said. ''We were looking for a model to test it. This was perfect.''

While geologists got down to business Sunday, the 50 residents of Ludlow near the quake's epicenter, had to fix mobile homes that slipped off foundations and broken glass and broken dishes that slowed service at the town's only diner.

The small town that heralded itself as ''famous for absolutely nothing'' is now known as the site of the strongest quake to hit California since Landers in 1992.

AP-NY-10-18-99 0434EDT




USGS just released a report on San Fransisico today, stating that the city is on ground zero for a large quake, which they define as 6.7+ and that this quake has a 70% chance of occurring within the next 30 years. So much for EQ prediction. But that magnitude gives more credence to the remaining long duration PRs. The 60MM- could produce this quake in S.F, but not until 12/19 at least. The 300MS, now in critical, could produce this and much, much more in force. At least, a 7.5 in S. F. if my calculating is anywhere near correct. We get pass this time and we won't have to worry about this quake until 1/9. Which reminds me, there won't be a single PR across all the areas which will come into critical on 1/1. But there will be eight PRs in critical on the first day of the new century. We should remember that then.


TURKEY - 5.2

Death toll rises to 15


Circling the Pacific Basin, on the bottom of the sea bed, lie a dramatic series
of volcanic arcs and oceanic trenches.

The zone - the 'Ring of Fire' - notorious for frequent earthquakes and volcanic
eruptions, coincides with the edges of one of the world's main tectonic plates.

More than half of the world's active volcanoes above sea level are part of the

Intense geological activity

In the past 25 years, scientists developed a theory called plate tectonics
explaining the locations of volcanoes and other large-scale geologic features.

According to tectonic theory, the surface of the Earth is made up of a patchwork
of massive rigid plates, about 80km thick, which float in slow motion on top of
the Earth's hot, pliable interior.

The plates change size and position over time, moving at speeds of between
1cm and 10cm every year - about the speed at which fingernails grow.

New sea bed is constantly being created in the middles of the oceans - flowing
out as hot lava, and rapidly cooling on contact with cold deep sea water.

To make room for the continual addition of new ocean crust, all the earth's
plates move. And as they move, intense geologic activity occurs at the plate

At the edges, one of three things may occur.

The plates can be moving away from each other, leaving space for new ocean

Some plates are moving towards each other, causing one to submerge beneath
the other.

Other boundaries slide past each other without much disturbance.

Tectonics and earthquakes

Parts of the plate boundary that slide past one another in opposite directions -
such as the San Andreas Fault - cause minor earthquakes.

The faults may also create cliffs or scarps thousands of feet high on the ocean

But where one oceanic plate collided with and is forced deep into the Earth's
interior, the subsumed plate encounters high temperatures and pressures that
partially melt solid rock.

Some of this newly-formed magma rises to the Earth's surface and erupts,
forming chains of violent volcanoes - like the Ring of Fire.

These narrow plate-boundary sites, known as subduction zones, are also
associated with the formation of deep ocean trenches and big earthquakes.

When there is an earthquake under the sea, one side of the ocean floor
suddenly drops downward, beneath the top edge of the subducting plate.

The resulting vertical fault will generate a tsunami - much as a wave
machine in a swimming pool will generate one.

The movements of the plates usually allow little warning for those at risk
in coastal areas.

One warning of a tsunami is that there is a rush of water away from the
coastline - but this predictor may mean the forthcoming seismic wave is
only minutes away.

One week before Papua New Guinea's seismic activity, a large quake was
recorded to the west of Western Samoa, and another took place in Vanuatu.

The frequency of Pacific quakes and seismic activity is not coincidence.



9-13-99 - ANOTHER QUAKE IN TURKEY 5.8 to 6.8


9/12/99 --

Fairly strong earthquake jolts Tokyo and surrounding areas

TOKYO (AP) -(Sept. 12, 1999) A fairly strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.1 shook Tokyo and surrounding areas Monday morning, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries from the tremor, which struck at 7:56 a.m. local time (6:56 p.m. EDT Sunday), police said.

The quake was centered about 50 miles underground in the northwestern part of Chiba prefecture, or state, just east of Tokyo.

An earthquake of magnitude 5 can break windows and crack walls. Some high-rise buildings swayed during Monday's quake.

Japan is one of the world's most earthquake-prone nations because it sits atop four tectonic plates, slabs of land that move across the earth's surface.

Copyright 1999 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Greeks blame ancient god Enceladus for quake

ATHENS, Sept 10, 99 (Reuters) - When a deadly earthquake struck Athens earlier this week, Greek newspapers splashed banner headlines reading: ``Enceladus strikes!''

Among the countless deities the ancient Greeks worshipped, Enceladus was feared and revered as the god of seismic tremors and volcanos.

Greek mythology says he was the leader of the Giants, the sons of heaven and earth who fought a battle with the Olympian gods for control of the universe.

Zeus, father of the Olympians, stunned Enceladus with his thunderbolts and, in one version, hurled the island of Sicily over him. His struggle to free himself has since been the cause of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

05:07 09-10-99


Greece Rescuers Scale Back Search
Death Toll at 97


.c The Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece (AP)(Sept. 10, 99) - Rescue crews were gradually scaling back the search for survivors today amid the mounds of crushed concrete and twisted metal from buildings that collapsed in Greece's deadliest quake in more than 40 years.

Despite working round the clock, emergency crews said they had found no more signs of life amid the rubble, as the death toll rose today to 97. More than two dozen people were still missing.

International crews concentrated their searches, using ultra-sensitive listening equipment and sniffer dogs, on six sites, including a cleaning products factory where a 31-year-old woman was rescued Thursday after nearly 46 hours under the rubble.

Bulldozers and other heavy equipment were kept away from areas with any hope of a survivor from Tuesday's 5.9 quake. After last month's massive quake in Turkey, a 4-year-old was saved after more than six days.

``There's always hope,'' said Panaghiotis Fourlas, deputy chief of the Greek Fire Department.

At the flattened factory, crews periodically asked for silence to allow microphones to pick up any encouraging sounds from below. But since Thursday's rescue, there's been only silence.

``I hope someone is still there alive. I hope they've fainted or something,'' said Grigoris Angelopoulos, a 34-year-old computer programmer heading a 16-man Red Cross rescue crew picking carefully through all that's left of a four-story apartment block in the northern Athens suburb of Metamorfosi.

The Athens quake is the deadliest to hit Greece since 1953, when a magnitude 7.2 temblor flattened the Ionian island of Cephalonia, killing 476 people.

Thousands of people left homeless crowded into tents, indoor sports stadiums and local hotel rooms provided by authorities, while others slept in their cars or hastily erected tarps outside their damaged homes, fearing looters could show up if they left their apartments unattended. So far, there have been few reports of looting.

About 8,000 police officers have been assigned to patrol the hardest-hit areas in an attempt to convince residents it was safe to leave their homes for the camps, officials said.

In Ano Liosia, an impoverished town north of Athens that was among the heaviest hit, a camp of some 200 people has sprung up in front of the Panagia Kanala monastery. The Greek Orthodox monks had to haggle for tents from local officials, and promised aid has not appeared.

``People come to me every morning asking for tents and help. We do what we can,'' said the monastery's head, Father Dorotheos, who was also rendered homeless by the quake.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said 12,000 tents were being erected to accommodate more than 70,000 people who could be homeless ``for a few months'' - well into the season when the weather can turn raw and rainy.

Engineers toured the worst-struck areas - mainly poor immigrant and Gypsy neighborhoods - spray-painting a red X on buildings to mark the more badly damaged for demolition. A yellow mark meant temporarily uninhabitable, while green signifies the building is safe.

So far, more than 1,000 buildings have been marked for demolition.

The government has announced a wide range of aid and benefit packages for quake victims, including cash donations and interest-free long-term loans to finance the rebuilding of homes.

Prosecutors have launched investigations into whether building shortcuts were used to circumvent Greece's strict anti-quake standards.

AP-NY-09-10-99 0754EDT


Death Toll in Greece Quake at 74


.c The Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece (AP) (Sept. 9, 1999)  - Rescuers lifted a woman to safety today from the ruins of a factory toppled nearly 46 hours earlier by a powerful earthquake that has claimed at least 74 lives and left dozens of others missing.

The cries of joy from the woman's husband buoyed the spirits of emergency teams working round the clock, but there were few signs of life from other crumbled buildings and the death toll was expected to climb.

In northern Greece, meanwhile, twin quakes under the Aegean Sea escalated fears that more serious temblors were possible around a country laced with fault lines.

There were no immediate reports of serious damage from the quakes, which had preliminary magnitudes of 4.8 and 5.2 and were centered near the island of Samothraki, 200 miles northeast of Athens, according to the Athens Geodynamic Institute.

In Athens, authorities scrambled to set up tents and find shelter in hotels for thousands sleeping outdoors in parks and soccer stadiums, while inspectors expanded checks on homes damaged by the capital's strongest quake in nearly a century.

In the hard-hit areas north of Athens, located near the epicenter of the magnitude 5.9 quake, about 20 percent of buildings checked the day after Tuesday's temblor were marked for demolition, said Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou.

Rescue crews from Greece and its traditional rival, Turkey, managed to pull two survivors - a man and a woman - from deep in the rubble of a cleaning products factory late Wednesday. It took more than 12 hours of digging to reach the other woman as her husband joined crews around a small hole punched into a concrete slab.

Television and radio channels canceled their regular programing and maintained continuous live coverage of rescue efforts.

More than 80 people have been rescued from the rubble, authorities said. But dozens of others remained missing in collapsed buildings in areas spanning working-class districts and Gypsy camps.

Fire Chief Panaghiotis Fourlas said it was doubtful many of the estimated 45 people still missing would be found alive.

Health and fire officials said at least 74 people died and more than 2,000 were injured, many by falling debris and glass as they raced from homes and offices.

Seismologists attempted to calm jittery Athenians frightened by frequent aftershocks, stressing it was highly unlikely a stronger quake would follow near the metropolis of 5 million people.

The temblor ``is a rare phenomenon for this ... area and corresponds roughly to the greatest expected strength,'' said a joint announcement issued by Greece's Earthquake Protection Agency and Environment Ministry.

``Based on existing evidence, the committee believes yesterday's earthquake was the main earthquake, and that aftershocks are occurring normally,'' the announcement said.

Premier Costas Simitis said the government has ordered a criminal investigation into alleged substandard construction. ``Our view and our desire is for (those responsible) to be found and punished as soon as possible,'' he said.

Public prosecutors began visiting the sites of collapsed buildings before dawn today to gather information.

Shoddy apartment blocks were blamed for the staggering devastation in western Turkey last month, when a magnitude 7.4 quake killed more than 15,000 people.

Simitis promised swift relief measures. Each homeless family will receive emergency financial help amounting to $667, as well as subsidies for paying rent in temporary housing, he said.

The state will pay one third of the money needed to construct new buildings or repair existing ones, and provide the rest in interest-free loans over 15 years.

Businesses whose premises were damaged will also be entitled to loans, while pensioners and the unemployed will receive extra benefits, the premier said.

Offers of assistance have also poured in from abroad. Traditional rival Turkey was among the first countries to send a rescue crew to Athens, following Greece's quick offers of help after Turkey's massive quake on Aug. 17 touched deep emotions.

``We understand your pain,'' Nasuh Mahruki, the head of the 20-member Turkish AKUT team. ``If we can help in these rescue efforts, we will be very happy.''

A second round of confidence-building talks between Greek and Turkish officials opened today with both sides lauding the cooperation in the shared quake tragedies.

``These earthquakes have created the belief that the climate will continue to be good,'' said Panos Beglitis, spokesman for the Greek Foreign Ministry.

Rescue crews also flew in from France, Switzerland, the Ukraine and the Czech Republic. A 40-member Israeli team joined the effort today.

AP-NY-09-09-99 0655EDT


Death Toll Tops 50 in Greek Quake


.c The Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece (AP) (Sept. 8, 1999)- As rescue workers hacked slowly through mounds of rubble, the death toll from one of the worst quakes to hit Athens this century climbed past 50 today. Some officials feared the number of dead could surpass 80.

With about 80 people missing in collapsed buildings, including 30 feared dead in the rubble of a foam and cleaning products factory, crews intensified their efforts to find survivors a day after a magnitude 5.9 ripped through the capital's northern suburbs.

In central Athens, there was very minor damage to some ancient sites, including the Acropolis. But the nearby towering columns at the Temple of Zeus were spared any harm. The National Archaeological Museum reported some damage to items.

About 500 engineers fanned out through the hardest-hit area this morning. Greeks were being helped by teams from Turkey, France and Switzerland. More squads were expected from Germany and Russia, but rescue efforts could be hampered by rain, which was forecast.

``We can now increase our attempts,'' said Fire Chief Panaghiotis Fouras, deputy head of the Greek Fire Department. But as he stood on a mountain of rubble watching rescuers crawling around in 15 shafts bored into what remained of the five-story factory, he was unsure anyone would emerge alive.

``We don't have any signs of life right now, but that doesn't mean that we have no hope,'' Fouras said.

At least 53 people, including 14 children, were killed, fire officials said. They said rescue crews had found 160 survivors by early today.

Thousands of Athenians, fearing a new quake, camped out in city parks as aftershocks rumbled through the night. Many reportedly stayed away from work today.

There were more than 700 aftershocks, including eight over magnitude 4 and a midnight jolt that registered magnitude 4.7. Experts said the strong aftershocks were an indication that the energy built up along the fault line was abating to safe levels.

The city's chief prosecutor, Giorgos Koliokostas, launched an investigation to determine if poor workmanship contributed to the collapse of more than 100 buildings, from multistory apartment houses to factories. The government-run Athens News Agency cited reports saying 2,500 homes suffered serious damage. The figure could mean thousands of people were rendered homeless.

Most of the damage and casualties were concentrated in working-class and immigrant areas, where construction standards apparently were lower or building shortcuts were made.

``We will look at this with great care. We have some of the strictest earthquake regulations around and if they were kept we should not have had this much damage,'' said Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou.

Officials declared a one-day state of emergency in the Athens metropolitan area, closed all public schools today and warned people to stay out of even slightly damaged homes until they were inspected. The Athens Stock Exchange also was closed.

Officials also began setting up more than 700 tents in the area around Menidi, where the quake was centered. The telephone company reprogrammed pay phones in the area to dial free of charge.

Greek media had high praise for a 19-member crew from Turkey's volunteer Akut rescue team, which arrived first and headed straight for the foam factory after arriving at Athens airport.

Turkey's quick offer of assistance to its traditional rival was a poignant reminder of Greece's aid to its neighbor when it was hit by a devastating quake on Aug. 17- a move that helped thaw decades of enmity.

Some of the Greek crews had just returned from Turkey, where a quake near Istanbul killed more than 15,000. That quake registered a magnitude of 7.4.

Greece, however, was better-equipped to handle Tuesday's quake than Turkey. Strict building codes in quake-prone Greece allowed the huge Athens metropolis to ride out the temblor with far less damage than Turkey, where shoddy construction was blamed for near-total destruction in some places.

Official emergency crews, police and military forces were on the scene within the hour, compared to hours and even days in Turkey.

The strongest quake in the Athens area this century was a magnitude 6 in 1914, said Vasilis Papazahos, a leading earthquake expert in the region.

AP-NY-09-08-99 0915EDT


Thirty Dead in Greece Quake


.c The Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece (Sept. 7. 1999) - Rescue teams and stunned residents used everything from cranes to garden tools Tuesday to dig for those pinned under wreckage from the strongest earthquake to hit Athens in nearly a century - a 10-second shudder that claimed at least 30 lives and left close to 100 missing.

The scenes of desperate searches and survivors too frightened to return indoors were sadly familiar: Last month's monstrous quake in neighboring Turkey had moved many Greeks to put aside their historical enmity with Turks and mobilize aid.

But some significant differences came to light in the shared disasters.

Decades of progressively stricter building codes in Greece allowed the Athens metropolis to ride out the 5.9-magnitude temblor with much less misery than western Turkey, where shoddy construction was blamed for near total destruction in some places after the 7.4-magnitude quake on Aug. 17.

''Damage like we saw in Turkey is difficult to occur here with the modern buildings we have,'' said Manolis Skordilis, head of the Thessaloniki Seismological Institute.

Most of the damage and casualties were concentrated in working-class and immigrant areas north of Athens where construction standards were apparently lower or builders used shortcuts, some officials suggested. More than 100 buildings collapsed, from multistory apartment houses to factories, and hundreds more were left with cracks or crumbled facades.

State television reported at least 30 people dead, including several children. Most of the victims were crushed; a few suffered fatal heart attacks.

The exact number of missing was unclear, but state media said about two dozen people were trapped in flattened apartment buildings. An estimated 40 workers were missing in a collapsed foam products factory north of Athens, and about a dozen employees were reported under the rubble of an appliance maker.

In central Athens, there was no apparent damage to ancient sites, including the Acropolis and the towering columns of the Temple of Zeus.

But streets throughout the capital of more than 5 million people were littered with signs of the quake's power: chunks of concrete, glass shards and shattered marble that rained down on people who raced from offices and homes in the middle of a work day. Hundreds of people were hurt by falling debris, police said.

Some women dashed out of beauty salons, their hair still wet. Workers bolted from their offices and retirees poured into the streets in slippers or stocking feet. People punched in vain at cellular phones trying to get through on overcrowded networks. Others tried to get to public telephones or huddled around radios at sidewalk kiosks.

A series of aftershocks - as strong as 4.5 - swayed buildings and kept people from going back indoors even as night fell. Many Athenians have ancestral homes in other parts in the nation and have memories of devastating temblors.

Civil defense officials erected tents and provided aid to people refusing to return home. Some gathered in a central Athens park, where an evening concert was planned to help the victims of the quake in Turkey, which claimed more than 15,000 lives.

The strongest quake in the Athens area this century was of magnitude 6 in 1914, said Vasilis Papzahos, one of the leading earthquake experts in the region.

The Athens Seismological Institute said the latest quake had a preliminary magnitude of 5.9 and was centered about 12 miles north of Athens. The epicenter was between Menidi and Mount Parnes, which is a national park and sparsely inhabited.

''Everyone panicked, especially because of the recent Turkish quake,'' said Dimitris Lalas, head of the institute.

The U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 5.8 centered about 15 miles northwest of Athens.

Seismologists said there was no clear connection with the Turkish quake. Still, ''we can say there is increased earthquake activity in the eastern Mediterranean,'' said Skordilis.

Greece has a long history of powerful and deadly quakes.

In 1995, a 6.1-magnitude quake killed 26 people in Aegio, about 120 miles southwest of Athens. The deadliest quake in Greece in recent decades was a 6.5-magnitude temblor in 1978 in the northern port of Thessaloniki that killed 45 people.

Since a strong 1981 earthquake felt in Athens, most buildings in the capital have been built and reinforced to withstand quakes.

AP-NY-09-07-99 1636EDT


Strong Earthquake Shakes Athens

At Least Five People Killed


.c The Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece (Sept. 7, 99) - A strong earthquake shook Athens for nearly 10 seconds this afternoon, toppling some buildings and sending hundreds of thousands of terrified people into the streets. At least five people died and dozens were reported missing.

People were hit by falling debris - glass, concrete and marble slabs - and at least three victims were killed when a building collapsed in the Menidi suburb north of Athens, police said. At least two fatal heart attacks were blamed on the quake, which had a preliminary magnitude of 5.9.

As many as 20 people were trapped in the ruins of a flattened apartment building, authorities said. In a collapsed section of a factory, voices were heard crying for help.

Dozens of other buildings collapsed or suffered serious damage in the sprawling Athens metropolis. The most serious damage apparently occurred in Menidi and other northern areas close to the quake's epicenter.

There was no apparent damage to ancient sites, including the Acropolis and the towering columns of the Temple of Zeus.

A series of aftershocks - as strong as 4.4 - swayed buildings and kept people outdoors after one of the strongest quakes in years in the Athens area. Many Athenians have ancestral homes in other parts in the quake-prone nation and have memories of devastating temblors.

Chunks of concrete fell from buildings, landing atop cars and shattering on streets and sidewalks. Electric power and telephone service was out in some parts of this city of more than 5 million. People at an afternoon concert in a central Athens auditorium screamed and raced for the exits.

According to the Athens Seismological Institute, the 2:56 p.m. quake was centered about 12 miles north of Athens. The epicenter was between the working class suburb of Menidi and Mount Parnes, which is a national park and sparsely inhabited.

The quake was felt across the Aegean Sea in Izmir, Turkey, about 180 miles east of the Greek capital.

In Athens, people sought safety anywhere clear of buildings: on road median strips, parking lots and in the National Garden in central Athens - near the site of a concert that was planned for later Tuesday to aid victims of last month's quake in neighboring Turkey that claimed more than 15,000 lives.

''Everyone panicked, especially because of the recent Turkish quake,'' said Dimitris Lalas, head of the Athens Seismological Institute.

Some women dashed out of beauty salons, their hair still wet. Men bolted from their offices. Thousands clutched cellular phones trying to get through on the overcrowded network. Others tried to get to public telephones or huddled around radios at sidewalk kiosks.

Some motorcycle and scooter drivers were knocked to the ground.

Television and radio stations broadcast appeals calling on people not to panic, avoid using their cars and telephones to free access for emergency crews. Military and fire units were put on alert and hospitals called back all staff.

''We had a very strong shock,'' said George Skordilis, a seismologist with the Athens Seismological Institute. ''There has been aftershock activity but we can't make any forecasts.''

On Aug. 17, a magnitude 7.4 earthquake hit neighboring Turkey, killing more than 15,000 people.

While Skordilis said there was no clear connection with the Turkish quake, ''we can say there is increased earthquake activity in the eastern Mediterranean.''

The institute said the quake was among the strongest in nearly a century along the fault line crossing near Athens. But stronger temblors have hit other areas of Greece.

In 1995, a 6.1 magnitude quake killed 26 people in Aegio, about 120 miles southwest of Athens. The deadliest quake in Greece in recent decades was a 6.5 temblor in 1978 the northern port of Thessaloniki that killed 45 people.

Since a strong 1981 earthquake that was felt in Athens, most buildings in the capital have been built and reinforced to withstand quakes.

AP-NY-09-07-99 1100EDT




AUGUST 31, 1999



UPDATED 8-28-99

UPDATED 8-21-99



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BY David Wilcock