The earthquake that struck the town of Zakros, SE Crete at 12:24 pm on Tuesday with a magnitude of 6.3 on the Richter scale is the main one, Efthymios Lekkas, president of the Earthquake Planning and Protection Organisation of Greece said later the same day.
He cautioned however that two more 24-hour cycles needed to pass to verify the aftershock follow up. An aftershock measuring 4 on the Richter scale was recorded at 12:36, while the largest aftershock recorded so far is 4.4 on the Richter scale.
There were no injuries reported, but a small church of Agios Nikolaos in Xerokambos Sitias, further south, had collapsed and damaged stores in Xirokambos. Falling rocks and boulders were also reported in several regions, while classrooms at several schools in eastern Crete as far as Iraklio were evacuated.
The head of research at the Athens Observatory’s Geodynamic Institute Gerassimos Chouliaras agreed, adding that there might be an aftershock of the same strength or of slightly lower magnitude.
Lekkas told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) that today’s earthquake of 6.3 that shook Zakros had an epicenter 23km east of Zakros and a focal depth at 8.2km arose in a different fault from that in Arkalochori, 80km away, at the end of September. He added that the epicentre of Tuesday’s quake was 80 km away from that of Arkalochori and arose in a different fault.
The professor explained that it was a superficial and shallow earthquake that was felt widely in Crete, the islands of the Dodecanese – especially Kassos, Karpathos and Rhodes – and the wider region. According to reports from abroad, it was felt at Cyprus, Marsa Matrouh and Cairo.
University of Thessaloniki seismologist Vassilis Karakostas told ANA-MPA that Tuesday’s earthquake struck nearly 100km east of the Arkalochori ones, where the aftershocks continue. He confirmed that the two earthquake regions are not directly related and should not be linked.
All local and state services have been on alert since the earthquake, while Shipping & Island Policy Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis will be in Sitia on Wednesday to travel with the mayor to affected areas.