Earthquake kills 10 in historic Spanish town

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Telegraph, London


Madrid, 12 May 2011: At least 10 people have been killed and dozens injured after an earthquake shook south-eastern Spain, toppling historic buildings in the mediaeval town of Lorca.


The magnitude 5.2 earthquake struck at 7.47pm on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 and was felt across the Murcia region, from Alicante to Malaga and as far away as Madrid.


The epicentre was registered in the Tercia mountain range close to the town of Lorca, where the destroyed buildings included a mediaeval church bell tower.


(A rare earthquake has rocked an ancient town in southeastern Spain causing houses to collapse, damaging historic churches and public buildings and killing several people.)


Authorities confirmed that at least 10 people had died, including a child aged 13.


Francisco Jodar, the mayor of Lorca, said: ’’Unfortunately people have died as a result of cave-ins and falling debris. We’re trying to find out if people have been trapped inside the collapsed houses.’’


Images broadcast on television showed streets in the historic quarter strewn with rubble and crushed cars.


There were also reports that sites including the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Huerta and several temples had been damaged.


(Rescue efforts ... Ambulance officers tend to injured people in Lorca. Residents spent the night outside after a magnitude 5.2 earthquake struck at 7.47pm local time)


The hospital was evacuated, prompting concerns about how the injured would be treated. Military units were dispatched to help in the rescue.


An earlier quake registering magnitude 4.4 occurred at 5.05pm before the second, larger shock hit. Residents in the town, which has a population of about 90,000, described the terrifying tremor.


’’There was a tremendous roar and the church was split in half,’’ Catalina Lopez told Spanish state television.


Another resident said that most people had already left their houses before the second bigger quake struck.


’’I felt a movement of such force, and with such noise, that it made all the furniture jump about. It was terrifying,’’ said Juani Avellaneda.


Spain is at moderate risk of earthquakes. It is struck by an earthquake above magnitude 6 about every 200 years.


In 2007 an earthquake of magnitude 6.3 struck the region around Cape St Vincent on Portugal’s southern coast, with no reports of damage or casualties.


In April 2009 a magnitude 5.8 earthquake hit L’Aquila in central Italy, killing more than 300 people.



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