Dozen dead in Spanish earthquake

LAST UPDATED: 11 May, 2011 @ 22:39
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Dozen dead in Spanish earthquake

By Jon Clarke in Malaga

THOUSANDS of people have fled the Murcia city of Lorca after at least ten people were killed in a violent earthquake.

The streets were described as “being eerily quiet” this evening, as residents – and holidaymakers, many of them British – left the coastal town for the outskirts of the city to escape falling masonry.

They also feared a new earthquake after two seismic episodes – of 4.4 and 5.2 grade – rocked the town just two hours apart.

Buildings collapsed and pedestrians and cars were showered with masonry, from the second quake that lasted for around 20 seconds.

“It was the most scary 20 seconds of my life,” said Christina Selva, 32, who had been playing with her two small children when the earthquake struck.

“As soon as I could I dived under the kitchen table to try and sit it out. It was terrifying.”

Another resident Paloma Sanz told newspaper El Pais: “We are very worried and really fear going back in case there is another quake.”

She added: “The first one was more gently and lasted longer, while the second was much more violent.”

The biggest earthquake to strike Spain for 50 years struck at a depth of just 1km, near the town of Lorca at 6.50pm Spanish time.

Hundreds of historic buildings have been damaged, including the bell tower of one ancient church the Sanctuario Virgin de las Huertas in the city.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero has called a national emergency and deployed rescue workers and 350 soldiers to the southern city.

It is not clear how many people were injured, although Spanish media say there are dozens.

The Spanish Interior Ministry reported that 10 people were confirmed dead at around 10pm Spanish time. At least one of them was a child.

Shocked residents and workers rushed out of buildings and gathered in squares, parks and open spaces. Lines of cars lay crushed under tonnes of rubble and a hospital was evacuated as a precaution.

A doctor told national TV that she and her colleagues went into the streets and treated people with serious injuries “many unconscious”.

“The ambulances could not reach them. They took more than 40 minutes,” she said.

The earthquakes were felt over a wide area and many British holidaymakers and homeowners felt it in Polaris World in nearby Murcia.

“Unfortunately, we can confirm… deaths due to cave-ins and falling debris,” Lorca Mayor Francisco Jodar told radio station Ser.

“We are trying to find out if there are people inside the collapsed houses,” he added.
Murcia has had two recent earthquakes in 1999 and 2005, both of a lesser size.

4 COMMENTS

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  1. Sad to say but I have repeatedly stated on this forum that all modern Spanish building is rubbish built.

    There is no structural integrity in the apartment blocks. The internal walls are less than 3 inches thick and made of cavity clay blocks, so when the building starts to wobble they collapse immediately, then couple that with heavy re-inforced concrete floors and you have the proverbial ‘house of cards’ effect.

    Old houses built with massive rubble walls are just as dangerous. The Japanese know how to build quake proof houses and apartment blocks but i don’t see any of the quake effected Med contries asking for advice any time soon

    I would be very scared right now If I was living in one of these apartment blocks, very scared indeed. Remember this was not a big quake.

    The whole of Spain’s Med coast lies on a fault line. Someone on another post said they had contacted the Spanish government who said ‘it was alright there are hundreds of minor quakes each year – the correct interpretation is – you are living in an active quake zone but we are’nt going to confirm that because no one will want to buy property on or near that fault line.

    And of course this is another nail in the moribund Med property market.

    The Big One is going to hit and when it does and if it is at night the outcome will be a real catastrophe. Sad to say the Spanish will rebuild exactly as before. Those who live around the San Andreas fault in California know and accept the risks they run, I’m not sure that most Med Spanish have a clue.

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