Mass panic as 5.3 magnitude earthquake hits Macedonian capital

By bne IntelliNews September 12, 2016

An earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale struck the Macedonian capital on the afternoon of September 11 leaving dozens with minor injures and causing panic among the population. 

The quake was the strongest of a series of 15 that hit the Macedonian capital on September 11. Skopje is still dealing with the aftermath of heavy flooding that affected the area on August 6, leaving 22 dead and one toddler still missing.

The 5.3 magnitude quake took place at 15.10 local time with the epicentre northeast of Skopje at a depth of 10-15km, the Seismological Observatory in Skopje said.

According to seismologists, this was the second strongest quake in the last 120 years following the devastating one that almost levelled Skopje in 1963.

Over 70 people reported minor injuries and three required surgery. A car was smashed by a chimney which fell from a building, state-run broadcaster MTV reported.

There were reports of cracks in walls, broken lifts and power cuts in some Skopje districts, as well as problems with Internet and mobile connections.

A film showing was canceled after the roof of the Millennium cinema in Skopje was damaged in the quake.

The biggest damage were reported in the village of Gluvo, which is located close to the epicentre, according to residents.

There were several aftershocks following the afternoon quake, which came after a shallow earthquake at 06.58 local time, with a magnitude of 3.9 on the Richter scale.

Following the second big tremor in the afternoon, Skopje citizens left their homes in panic and stayed outside for hours. Some set up tents outside their buildings and others left the city for their weekend houses in the hope of finding a safer place outside the capital.

An official from the Seismological Observatory said the second big earthquake was surprising as there was a time difference of more than eight hours following the first big tremor in the morning.

Seismologists have sought to reassure residents that most of the buildings in Skopje are quake resistant as they were built after the devastating 1963 quake. 

Skopje was destroyed by strong earthquakes back in 518 and again in 1555.

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