By Constantinos Psillides
AN EARTHQUAKE shook Cyprus around 5.20pm on Saturday, which was felt all over the island. No casualties, injuries or damages were reported but many people were frightened, tying up police phone lines, the force said.
According to the European-Mediterranean Seismology Centre (EMSC), the epicentre of the 5.9-Richter quake was 208km North West of Nicosia off the coast of Turkey, in the bay of Antalya.
Geological Survey Department (GSD) head Eleni Georgiou-Morisseau told the CyBC that aftershocks could follow later on Saturday and on Sunday. “Aftershocks are a common occurrence after earthquakes. We are monitoring the situation closely,” said Morisseau. According to the EMSC, at least four aftershocks were immediately registered, reaching 3.0 in magnitude.
Morisseau added that the earthquake probably had a shallow focus point, a fact that, she said, would explain why it was felt all over the island. Earthquakes occurring at a depth of less than 70 km are classified as ‘shallow-focus’ earthquakes.
The EMSC reported that the earthquake depth to be 64km.
Thirty-seven seismic activities were registered in the region during 2013.
Morriseau contested the figures reported by the EMSC, saying that quake probably wasn’t a 5.9 on the Richter scale. “We are closer than the European-Mediterranean Seismology Centre and our measurements will be more accurate. It’s definitely over 5, said the head of the Geological Survey Department.
Associated Press reported that the Istanbul-based Kandilli seismology centre said the earthquake occurred at 5:21 pm, and was centered some 84 kilometers southwest of the holiday resort of Alanya.
Police in Cyprus reported no casualties or injuries. “Just a lot of calls from frightened people trying to figure out what’s happening,” a police official told the Sunday Mail.
Cypriots hit the social media websites the moment the earthquake occurred. A woman living on the fifth floor of an apartment in Larnaca tweeted that “living on the 5th floor is no joke when it comes to earthquakes” while a Larnaca man told the Mail jokingly that “the Christmas tree started dancing and the lights were twinkling”. A man in Paphos said that he was so scared he ran outside once the tremors started.
Saturday’s was the strongest earthquake felt it Cyprus since October 9 1996, when the island was hit with a 6.5 on the Richter scale. The earthquake epicentre was the same as Saturday’s – northwest of the island, and resulted in extensive damages to buildings in Paphos and Limassol. Two people lost their lived and it caused widespread panic in all districts. Around 20 people were lightly injured.
A 5.7 earthquake hit the island on February 23, 1995 and resulted in two casualties. Several houses collapsed in the villages of Pano Arodes and Miliou in Paphos.
A 5.6 earthquake was recorded on August 11 1999 with the epicentre near Yerasa village in Limassol. The quake was strongly felt across the entire island. It caused damage to buildings in Limassol and the north part of the district. Some 40 people were lightly injured mainly because of panic. A large number of aftershocks continued for months.
The most recent earthquake reported was on October 21 this year, 10km off the coast of Paphos. The earthquake was of 3.7 local magnitude.