Greece declares state of emergency after earthquake leaves hundreds homeless

A damaged school building is seen at the village of Vrisa after an earthquake on the Greek island of Lesbos, Greece on June 13, 2017.
A damaged school building is seen at the village of Vrisa after an earthquake on the Greek island of Lesbos, Greece on June 13, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

ATHENS, Greece (NYTIMES) - The Greek government declared a state of emergency on Tuesday (June 13) after a strong earthquake struck the island of Lesbos in the Aegean Sea, killing a woman, injuring several people and leaving hundreds of residents homeless.

The quake, centred about 14.5km south of Lesbos, an area that was on the front line of the migrant influx two years ago, had a magnitude of 6.1, according to the Geodynamic Institute at the National Observatory of Athens.

It struck at about 3.30pm local time on Monday (June 12), and was felt in neighbouring Turkey, although no injuries were reported there.

Several hours later, rescue workers pulled the body of a 43-year-old woman from the rubble of her home. Another 15 people were said to have minor injuries.

As a series of milder aftershocks rattled Lesbos on Tuesday, the regional governor, Christiana Kalogirou, told Greek television that an estimated 800 people had been displaced and were being relocated.

"What is most important now is people's safety," she said.

The village of Vrissa, on the south of the island, bore the brunt of the tremor, with more than 40 houses destroyed and 40 badly damaged.

Hundreds of homeless residents spent the night in a makeshift camp set up by the army in a soccer field before moving in the morning to hotels or to the homes of relatives.

Aid workers said there was no damage or injuries at two refugee camps on the island. More than 3,500 migrants on Lesbos are awaiting the outcome of asylum applications, or deportation.

Speaking from Lesbos on Tuesday, the minister of public order, Nikos Toskas, said financial aid would be provided to those who had to abandon their homes.

"An emergency allowance will be given to those who lost everything, who had to drop everything and leave," he said.

Seismologists said on Greek television that the 48 hours after the quake was a critical period, and that while a stronger quake was unlikely, it could not be ruled out.