Series of earthquakes hit Macedonia's capital Skopje, causing panic

A police officer walks past the wreckage of a car after a chimney fell down near Skpoje on Sept 11, 2016 following a moderate 5.3-magnitude earthquake, preceded by two tremors.
A police officer walks past the wreckage of a car after a chimney fell down near Skpoje on Sept 11, 2016 following a moderate 5.3-magnitude earthquake, preceded by two tremors.PHOTO: AFP
People stay outside on the streets after an earthquake struck near Skopje on Sept 11, 2016.
People stay outside on the streets after an earthquake struck near Skopje on Sept 11, 2016.PHOTO: EPA
People stand outside on the streets  following a moderate 5.3-magnitude earthquake, preceded by two tremors, near Skopje.
People stand outside on the streets following a moderate 5.3-magnitude earthquake, preceded by two tremors, near Skopje.PHOTO: EPA
People gather in the streets and parks near Skpoje on Sept 11, 2016 after a moderate 5.3-magnitude earthquake, preceded by two tremors, struck the Macedonian capital.
People gather in the streets and parks near Skpoje on Sept 11, 2016 after a moderate 5.3-magnitude earthquake, preceded by two tremors, struck the Macedonian capital. PHOTO: AFP

SKOPJE (AFP) - A moderate 5.3-magnitude earthquake, preceded by two and followed by several tremors, struck the Macedonian capital Skopje on Sunday (Sept 11), causing panic but only minor damage, officials said.

Sunday's quake hit at 3.10pm, with the epicentre in the Skopje area, seismologists said, adding some 10 weaker tremors were later registered.

"In Skopje and surroundings some damages have been reported that occurred on older buildings," the country's seismological service said in a statement.

The quake was felt throughout the Balkan country, Mr Dragana Cernic of the seismological service said, citing earlier reports on minor damage, such as cracked walls and broken furniture.

However, some 60 panicked Skopje residents sought hospital treatment, some suffering broken limbs while trying to flee.

All but three were later discharged, hospital officials said.

Parts of Skopje were without power and some mobile phone providers were down.

Skopje was almost destroyed by a powerful quake in 1963, which killed around a thousand people.

Many residents said they were terrified.

"I don't know what to do. I don't want to return to my building," a fearful Skopje resident, Ms Mirjana Jovanovska, who remembered the 1963 quake, said outside her home.

Ms Dani Kavadarska, a 53-year-old woman, told AFP: "It was horrible... I was in a hospital when it happened and everyone ran outside, including patients on a drip, everyone. There is not a single doctor or nurse left inside."

On Sunday evening, many Skopje residents were still on the streets or in parks fearing to return to their homes.