A 5.5 magnitude earthquake rocked Crete this morning, with an immediate request for locals to move away from the coast to higher ground shortly afterwards. The quake struck 37 miles northeast of Siteía around 1.25am, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre. The tsunami warning was shortly rescinded and no damage was reported to have occurred during the quake.
Local residents in Sitia say the quake felt like a light tremor that lasted “five to ten seconds” with the worst outcome from the shake was felt by phone systems in Crete. They were quickly overwhelmed with demand, despite no reports of injury or loss of life, in contrast to the September 27, 2021 earthquake when the dome of a church being renovated in the town of Arkalochori caved in killing one person.
The area is known for small tremors throughout the region, with the last recorded earthquake near Crete being recorded on July 20 this year as a 4.8-magnitude earthquake hit in the sea near the island, according to the Geodynamic Institute of the National Observatory of Athens. But with this morning’s larger magnitude and its position off the coast of Crete, emergency services were not risking the threat of a tsunami.
Professor of Dynamic Tectonic Applied Geology & Disaster Management Efthymios Lekkas was quick to alleviate concerns to locals when he was interviewed by local TV station Skai TV. People in the south-eastern Aegean can rest assured that these types of earthquakes do not normally pose a danger because they have “no significant post-seismic sequence” he explained to viewers.
The earthquake struck at a depth of 80 km (49.71 miles) and was reportedly felt as far as north Africa. Crete lies within a seismically active area and generally residents expect some small shakes, though this morning’s quake has been the strongest magnitude earthquake in the region in 2022.