Strong Earthquake Strikes Near Crete, Felt in Israel

Quake of 6.4 magnitude detected in Mediterranean Sea; Greek authorities say no immediate reports of casualties.

An earthquake of 6.4-magnitude was detected in the Mediterranean Sea west of the island of Crete on Saturday and was felt in Israel.

Damage was caused to homes and shops in Crete, but there were no immediate reports of casualties, the Greek police and fire brigade said.

The center of the quake, which struck at 4:12 P.M. was 40 kilometers (43 miles) below the seabed, 70 kilometers (43 miles) west of Chania on Crete, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Because it took place at such a depth, there was no danger of a Tsunami, the Geophysical Institute of Israel in Lod said.

The geophysical institute received reports that the tremor was felt on the top floors of structures in various central Israeli locations.

In Crete, the quake caused thousands of residents on the island to rush from their homes in panic. "We are afraid to go back to our homes," said Hara Kontoridis. "Suddenly we could hear huge rocks coming down from the mountains and then the ground began to shake."

The epicenter of the quake was located on the fault line known as the Aegean Arc, which connects the tectonic plates of Africa and Europe. Relatively powerful earthquakes are common along this fault, which is larger than the fault in the Dead Sea Valley.

Several magnitude-4 aftershocks were recorded.

The German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam recorded the initial quake as being 6.5 in magnitude.
Greece is often rocked by earthquakes.

Most cause no serious damage, but a 5.9 magnitude quake in 1999 killed 143 people.

The last destructive earthquake felt in Israel was in 1927, with a magnitude of 6.2 that originated in Ein Gedi.

In the past, strong tremors in the Mediterranean basin have caused Tsunamis that damaged a number of Israeli ports. In recent years, experts in Israel have been working on a Tsunami risk map for the country.