Aftershocks rattle Cyprus after major tremor

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Three smaller aftershocks of less than 2.5 magnitudes followed the big 5.0 earthquake which shook Cyprus on Thursday at 16:27 with its epicentre at Dasaki Achna, near Larnaca.

According to the Geological Survey Department, Thursday’s earthquake was the strongest that shook the island since 2015 when a 5.6 earthquake on the Richter Scale hit Kisonerga in Paphos.

It was also felt as far away as Lebanon, Israel, Syria and Turkey.

Christodoulos Hadjigeorgiou, Chief Geologist at the department said that according to the history of the region, earthquakes measuring between 4.1 and 4.7 on the Richter scale were common in the area from 2015-2018 and occurred almost every year.

Between the years 2018 and 2021, there were no big earthquakes recorded.

Hadjigeorgiou explained that the longer a ‘dead’ period lasts, the more energy is stored increasing the chances of a bigger quake.

“We hope to see more smaller earthquakes than one big one,” he noted.

Asked whether there is any reason for concern, he said Cyprus is in an earthquake zone and people must be prepared for an earthquake occurring at any moment.

Referring to earthquakes recorded in the past, Hadjigeorgiou said that a very strong local earthquake of magnitude 6.5 had occurred in 1941, which was felt throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and caused destruction, injuries, and deaths of animals.

There was also a 5.7 quake in 1961 in Larnaca Bay.

He added that in 1999, a magnitude 5.6 earthquake was also recorded in the Yerasa fault where there were also minor injuries, mainly due to panic, but also damage to buildings in Limassol.

A magnitude 6.8 earthquake shook southwestern Cyprus in 1996 and left two people dead and two injured, while Paphos and Limassol suffered limited damage.

In 1995 there was a magnitude 5.9 earthquake in western Paphos, with 2 dead and houses collapsing in the villages Pano Arodes and Miliou (both in Paphos).

Hadjigeorgiou said that smaller earthquakes take place every 2 to 6 years, earthquakes that cause damage are usually of magnitude between 5.5 and 6 that occur every 15 to 20 years.

Earthquakes of a magnitude 6 to 6.5 come around every 50 years and tremors over 7 every 150 years.