Thousands spend the night in the streets after Spain’s worst earthquake in 50 years killed eight people

LAST UPDATED: 6 Sep, 2011 @ 08:29
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Thousands spend the night in the streets after Spain’s worst earthquake in 50 years killed eight people

THOUSANDS of people including expats and holidaymakers were forced to spend the night in the streets after Spain’s worst earthquake in 50 years killed eight people.

Up to 20,000 people slept in squares, parks and nearby countryside amid fears of aftershocks following two tremors, measuring 4.4 and 5.2 on the Richter scale.

But as Spain deals with the shock of yesterday’s earthquake in Lorca concerns have been raised about the standards of building and how apparently minor tremors could have caused such destruction.

Authorities have now put the number of injured at 120 with eight fatalities including two pregnant women and a child.

At least two of the dead were killed by falling bricks and masonry as an apartment building in one of the town’s poorer neighborhoods collapsed.

This morning bulldozers moved into the city to clear away rubble, including a three-storey building that collapsed, raising concerns about the quality of building work in an area known for low-level earthquakes.

But Roger Musson, a seismologist at the British Geological Survey, said the town had been unlucky because the quake had happened three km underground.

“It’s only really caused such damage because it was so shallow and the epicenter was so close to the town of Lorca,” he said.

“A magnitude 5.2 is not that big – it’s not considered a large earthquake.”

“On average there are probably about 1,000 magnitude 5 earthquakes every year, which is around three per day.”

“It’s only when you get one in a place like this where you get significant damage,” he added.

“It’s certainly unlucky for the people of Lorca to get one so close and shallow.”

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