Magnitude 6.3 earthquake jolts Greek island of Crete

ATHENS, Greece — A strong earthquake jolted the Greek island of Crete on Tuesday, two weeks and a day after another temblor killed a man and damaged hundreds of buildings.

The Geodynamic Institute in Athens said the undersea earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.3 and occurred at 12: 24 p.m. local time (9: 24 a.m. GMT) off the island’s eastern coast.

It was felt as far as the coast of Turkey and on Cyprus, more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) to the east, authorities said.

Magnitude 4.1 and 4.6 quakes that were believed to be aftershocks took place minutes later, the institute in Athens said. Residents were advised to avoid the coastal area due to a rise in sea levels around Ierapetra, an eastern Cretan port.

There were no reports of serious damage or injuries, but a small church near the epicenter that was empty at the time of the quake partially collapsed. Police and firefighters were checking out remote areas of eastern Crete, according to authorities.

“The quake was felt all over the island, and it did cause concern because we are still feeling the aftershocks from the previous quake,” Crete’s deputy regional governor, Yiannis Leondarakis, told Greece’s state-run radio.

Witnesses said residents of the island’s largest city, Heraklion, went outdoors when the quake struck, while students at many schools on the island gathered outside their classrooms.

Hundreds of people from villages south of Heraklion remain homeless following a 5.8-magnitude quake that struck on Sept. 27. One man died while repairing a damaged church in the vicinity. The army set up tents and hotels for residents whose houses were destroyed.

Seismologists said the quakes last month and on Tuesday took place along different fault lines.

Leondarakis said of Tuesday’s earthquake: “Fortunately, there does not appear to be any serious damage despite the fact that it was a strong event and occurred at a shallow depth.”

The quake also shook nearby Greek islands to the east of Crete, including Karpathos, Kassos. According to officials on Karpathos, there had been no serious injuries.

This version has been corrected to show the earlier earthquake took place two weeks and one day ago, not three weeks.

Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey and Menelaos Hadjicostis in Nicosia, Cyprus contributed.

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