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Situation Update No. 15
On 13.05.2011 at 03:50 GMT+2
Thousands of people have fled the Spanish town of Lorca following an earthquake that left nine people dead and damaged hundreds of buildings. Many residents have gone to stay with friends and family in other areas, some because their homes are unsafe and others fear aftershocks. Troops and emergency workers have put up hundreds of tents for about 3,000 homeless people still in the town. Funerals for some of the victims are due to be held on Friday. The magnitude-5.2 quake struck the southern town on Wednesday evening, about two hours after a quake measuring 4.4. The BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Lorca says almost every building in the town has been damaged. On Thursday some residents were briefly allowed back into their homes to salvage what belongings they could from the rubble. Spanish TV pictures showed many were in tears. Inspection teams are going house to house assessing the damage before declaring which buildings are safe to return to. Our correspondent says some residents are starting to question the quality of the building work in their homes. Initial feelings of fear and panic are giving way to a mood of deep frustration, she adds.
Shops, restaurants and schools have been closed and a steady stream of cars was leaving the town in Murcia region. Bulldozers have been clearing streets of rubble and crushed cars. Many ancient buildings were among those badly damaged. Many of those residents left behind are immigrant labourers who have nowhere else to go. Unemployed Ecuadorean farm worker Luis Vazquez spent the first night camping in a supermarket car park with his wife, daughter and four other families. He said his apartment had been badly damaged and that he would soon have to ask for help. People queue for tents Those left behind have been queuing for tents, food and drinks "I can't care for my family without money, and now without a house," he said. People in towns and cities across Spain marked a minute's silence on Thursday in memory of the victims. Thirty people remained in hospital, three in a serious condition. The dead included one child, the regional government's health department said. An open-air funeral mass is to be held in the town on Friday morning, attended by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia.
The Spanish government has deployed about 800 personnel to the town, including emergency units, troops and police, Mr Zapatero said. Spanish seismological experts are predicting smaller aftershocks over the next month in the area, which lies close to the geological fault line separating Europe and Africa. Luis Suarez, president of Spain's College of Geologists, said the quake should not have been strong enough to bring down buildings and the scale of the damage must have been due to pre-existing structural problems. He said the area's sandy soil also made the impact worse. It was the deadliest tremor to hit Spain since 1956 when an earthquake killed 11 people in Albolote, Granada.
Situation Update No. 14
On 13.05.2011 at 03:16 GMT+2
Hundreds of people queued for food aid in the Spanish town of Lorca and wandered the streets wrapped in blankets on Thursday after an earthquake killed eight people and injured more than 120. Thousands of residents of the town slept on the street overnight, unable to return home after the 5.1 magnitude quake on Wednesday evening destroyed masonry and building facades, crushed cars and littered streets with bricks. Many of Lorca's 90,000 residents were waiting for housing inspectors to give them the green light to enter buildings. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said 800 military and civil guard personnel were in Lorca, 370 army tents had been sent, and a camp hospital had been set up.
"We've activated all aid measures with maximum speed," he said live on television, pledging to rebuild damaged water mains and roads quickly and to visit the town on Friday. The number of fatalities was revised down to eight, including one teenage girl, from an earlier report of 10. More than 120 people were injured, three critically, officials said. Food distribution points were set up in parks and troops set up temporary tent shelter for 3,000 people made homeless by the quake, which hit at 6:46 p.m. (1446 GMT) on Wednesday. "We spent the night outside here in the square. The emergency workers are giving us food and blankets. We're not allowed to go into our apartment until an engineer comes and looks at our building," said Edgar Rosales, 38, an Ecuadorian immigrant.
Rosales said the earthquake jolted groceries off the shelves of his Latin American food store and rained produce down on to his daughters. "The important thing is that we're all okay. We're all here together now," Rosales said. Earthquakes causing extensive damage and fatalities are rare in Spain although the south of the country has extensive faultlines. The U.S. Geological Survey registered one dead in a 1997 earthquake. In 1969 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed 19 people in the southern town of Huelva, according to Spain's National Geographic Institute. Wednesday's earthquake was revised down by the USGS from an initial estimate of magnitude 5.3, but was relatively close to the surface at a depth of just one kilometer. Zapatero's Socialist party and the center-right opposition Popular Party suspended campaign rallies throughout Spain for the May 22 regional and local elections for a day on Thursday out of respect for the victims of the earthquake. Opposition leader Mariano Rajoy visited Lorca on Thursday, as did Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba and Defense Minister Carme Chacon. Part of the front of a badly damaged church collapsed hours after the quake and other buildings in the town were considered unstable.
Situation Update No. 13
On 12.05.2011 at 17:40 GMT+2
It was gloomy night under the stars for tens of thousands of Spaniards who slept outside fearing aftershocks from yesterday's earthquake. At least nine people died and 30 were hospitalized for injuries following the pair of 4.4- and 5.2-magnitude temblors, according to Spain's geological institute. Only a few buildings were destroyed, but the resulting damage could still take weeks to repair. Officials estimated that about 30,000 people spent the night outdoors after the quakes, almost a third of the city's 90,000 population. Spanish experts said the quakes caused so much damage because they happened about 0.6 miles below ground, magnifying their energy and destructive power. Lorca itself looked like a war zone, with cars crushed by rubble and buildings scarred with cracks. The regional government said much of the damage was caused by parts of terraces in apartment buildings and masonry facade shook loose by the quakes. Lorca also suffered quakes of roughly the same magnitude in 1999, 2002, and 2005 that caused damage, but no injuries.
Situation Update No. 12
On 12.05.2011 at 17:13 GMT+2
A second quake in Lorca (Murcia) has left eight people dead, including two pregnant women and a 14-year-old boy. Described as the 'worst in more than 50 years', the aftershock – which measured 5.2 on the Richter scale – saw houses reduced to rubble and the bell-tower collapse. Whilst thousands of residents spent the night on the street – many fearing their houses would collapse – the Red Cross handed out blankets and food and attended to the 167 people who are reported injured. Lorca's Rafael Méndez and Virgen del Alcázar hospitals were evacuated, with nearly 500 patients being moved to other centres in the region. At least 20,000 people are unable to return home, and more than 500 people queued up for food in the early hours of the morning. The Huerta de la Rueda and La Viña districts were the worst-hit parts of the city, and most residents slept on the pavement with their children, dogs and cats. When a restaurant collapsed in La Viña, the owners' 14-year-old son rushed out into the street to escape, only to be killed by falling bricks.
It is not known whether there are more injured people or bodies under the rubble. Among the dead so far are two women aged 51 and 52, a man of 71, and two pregnant women, one of whom was just 22 years old. The quake recorded at 17.05hrs, measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale, caused only minor damaged and no injuries. But around two hours later, an aftershock measuring 5.2 on the scale led to mass devastation, deaths and injuries. Lorca, in the south of Murcia and close to the Almería border, has a population of around 90,000 people. Whilst earth-tremors are frequent in parts of Spain, they rarely measure more than two or three on the Richter scale and the only damage tends to be ornaments falling off shelves and the occasional broken window. Last night's tragedy in Lorca was unprecedented, say authorities.
Situation Update No. 11
On 12.05.2011 at 12:27 GMT+2
The Spanish Prime Minister has said that there will be no haggling over the reconstruction of the Murcia town of Lorca, following the earthquakes which brought death and destruction on Wednesday. All the nine dead are Spanish, three of them women, two of them pregnant, four men, and a 14 year old boy. Eight of the nine have now been identified and workers in the area say that at least six more people are missing. Most of the fatalities came from the Las Viñas area of the town where parts of buildings collapsed and others suffered structural damage. 260 people have been injured. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero described the damage to the town as ‘considerable’, and said he would go and look for himself on Friday after the morning cabinet meeting. Speaking from Congress on Thursday he made a call for calm and reassured residents that all necessary measures to restore normality are being made available as quickly as possible. Central Government has now mobilised 800 soldiers from the UME Military
Emergency Units, and they will help with the reconstruction. Priority is being given to the thousands of people who are now homeless. PP leader Mariano Rajoy is also planning to visit. The clean-up operation is now underway in the town, with municipal technicians estimating that all the blocks in the town centre have suffered some damage. The town has suffered more than 30 after-shocks since the main 5.1 quake just before 7pm on Wednesday night. One of them at 10,37pm reached 4 on the Richter Scale. Lorca Town Hall has called three days of official mourning for the eight victims. More than 20,000 people spent Wednesday night in the open, fearful of returning to their homes in case there were more tremors. Local train lines are now operating normally. Schools will remain closed until the state of their buildings can be property assessed.
Situation Update No. 10
On 12.05.2011 at 08:35 GMT+2
Lorca earthquake magnitude 5,1 Mb, 2011-05-11. Local authorities confirm the existence of 8 deaths, 130 injured and 10.000 people evacuated. All victims have been caused by wall rubble detached from the façades of the buildings to the streets. No new casualties are expected or greater magnitude aftershocks. The Government of Murcia Region declared the Level 2 of the Special Plan for Seismic Risk and the National Government called the State Committee of Coordination (CECO) to support the regional operations. The hospital Rafael Méndez suffered structural damages and 270 patients had to be evacuated to other hospitals. Schools have been closed until checking the possible damages. In this disaster are working 200 Civil Protection volunteers, 50 firefighters, 400 police officers and 225 soldiers of the Emergencies Military Unit (UME) from Bétera and Seville headquarters. Spanish Red Cross has mobilized several ambulances and medical teams, as well as groups of psychologists to assist the population afected. Current priorities are shelters, water, food, blankets and debris removal. One IAEM member has been on site to report damage, assist the local authorities and obtaining information of the earthquake for a better evaluation of the shaking intensity.
[This is confirmed situation report on the disaster area.]
Situation Update No. 9
On 12.05.2011 at 07:08 GMT+2
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Situation Update No. 8
On 12.05.2011 at 06:58 GMT+2
Southern Spain was struck by two earthquakes on Wednesday, one of which had a magnitude 5.2, toppling buildings and killing at least eight people. The Spanish Interior Ministry confirmed reports the quake hit the towns of Lorca and Totana in the region of Murcia. Another 167 people were reported injured, three in a serious condition. The earthquake is the deadliest to have hit Spain since April, 1956, when a tremor killed 11 people in the Andalusian town of Albolote. "Unfortunately, we can confirm ... deaths due to cave-ins and falling debris," the mayor of Lorca, Francisco Jodar, told radio station Ser. "We're trying to find out if there are people inside the collapsed houses." Residents of Lorca, southern Spain, scream as they escape their houses Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: The earthquakes happened in the region of Murcia. Falling rocks smashed parked cars on streets filled with rubble. "The streets are full of people, we don't know where to go and many people are in shock," one witness said. The clock tower of the main church in Lorca collapsed, narrowly missing a television journalist as he reported from the town, which has a population of around 90,000. About 10,000 people were unable to return to their homes, many being forced to spend the night outdoors. Emergency teams were sent to the affected areas and were combing damaged buildings for victims. The government in Madrid said it had sent 150 soldiers to assist in the operation. In light of the disaster, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and opposition leader Mariano Rajoy both agreed to suspend campaigning for municipal elections.
Situation Update No. 7
On 12.05.2011 at 06:06 GMT+2
Two rare earthquakes rocked the ancient town of Lorca in southeastern Spain on Wednesday causing homes to collapse, damaging historic churches and killing at least eight people. The 5.2 and 4.3 magnitude earthquakes sent tremors through the popular tourist region of Murcia. Part of the front of a badly damaged church in the small town collapsed hours after the quake, narrowly missing a television reporter filing a live report. "The population is scared and are very afraid to return to their homes. The whole of the centre of Lorca has been seriously damaged," Rafael Gonzalez Tovar, delegate from the central government in Murcia Rafael, told national radio. "There are thousands of very disorientated people."Television images showed shaken families and children gathering in a square in the town, seeking safety from fallen buildings as masonry and rubble blanketed the streets. "We were just sat here and everything began to move, pictures fell from the wall, the TV fell and (the quake) went on for ages. We looked out of the window and there were a lot of people running, an ambulance and the police," one woman told national radio.
The earthquake struck at 6:47 p.m. (1647 GMT), according to Spain's National Geographical Institute data. The U.S Geological Survey said the epicentre was 1 km below the ground. A milder quake of 4.3 magnitude had hit the town, which is dependent on farming, shortly beforehand. The last fatal earthquake to hit Spain was in 1997, when one person was killed, according to the USGS. Deputy Prime Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba will travel to the town on Thursday to examine the damage, the prime minister's office said. The government mobilised a military task force of 200 servicemen and women to help secure the area, where an estimated 10,000 people have been affected by the quake. Lorca, which has a population of about 90,000 people, dates back to the Bronze Age and probably gained its name from the Romans. The old part of the town is made up of a network of narrow alleyways. The town is built in the shadow of a fortress and its many architectural features include a Roman military column, the Church of San Francisco and medieval walls and gates of San Antonio.
At one point in its history, Lorca was a dangerous border town caught between the Kingdom of Castile and the Moorish Kingdom of Granada. Its Easter Fiesta draws throngs of Spaniards and foreign tourists. Elsewhere in the Mediterranean, in Rome thousands of people stayed away from work and school on Wednesday due to "earthquake fever" over a decades-old prediction that a huge earthquake would destroy Rome on May 11, 2011. A 6.3 magnitude quake shook central Italy in 2009, killing 295 people, according to the USGS website.
Situation Update No. 6
On 12.05.2011 at 02:42 GMT+2
Spanish soldiers were last night involved in frantic attempts to save people trapped under buildings after an earthquake claimed 10 lives in southern Spain. Troops were drafted in following the quake, which measured 5.3 on the Richter scale in the farming town of Lorca. It struck at 6.47pm local time (4.47pm GMT) Spain’s Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has deployed 150 emergency military troops to search for people trapped under rumble in the town, 75 miles south west of Alicante. Houses collapsed and a number of public buildings were toppled, with tremors felt hundreds of miles away in resorts popular with British holidaymakers. Lorca’s mayor, Francisco Jodar confirmed the deaths on local radio saying the victims had been killed by “cave-ins and falling debris” during what is believed to be the worst quake to hit the country for 50 years. Ten people have been confirmed dead but authorities fear the death toll will rise. Buildings, including a clocktower and historic churches, were badly damaged by the earthquake, which followed 4.4-magnitude tremor an hour earlier. Many aftershocks were felt throughout the region, which is popular with holidaymakers, expats and golfers..
The quake hit at a depth of 0.6 miles, according to the US Geological survey. Lorca, which has a population of 90,000, dates back to the Bronze Age and is thought to have earned its name from the Romans. The old part of the town is made up of a network of narrow alleyways. It is built in the shadow of a fortress and its many architectural features include a Roman military column, and the medieval walls and gates of San Antonio. Earthquakes are common in southern Spain, but they rarely result in casualties. This latest quake comes in the wake of recent earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand earlier this year. The 8.9 magnitude earthquake caused a tsunami off the coast of Japan in March, claiming 18,000 lives. In February, 65 people died in Christchurch, New Zealand, when a 6.3 magnitude quake struck. Many of the victims died when buses they were travelling in were crushed by falling buildings, with others trapped beneath the Pyne Gould Guinness building – a well-known office block – when it was razed to the ground by tremors. The latest quake may prove similar to the one that struck the medieval town of L’Aquila in Italy that killed 305 people. While most of l’Aquila’s medieval structures had some damage, many of its modern buildings suffered the greatest destruction.
Situation Update No. 5
On 11.05.2011 at 19:53 GMT+2
A magnitude 5.2 quake has killed 10 people in southern Spain, toppling buildings and sending panicked residents fleeing into the streets. The quake killed 10 people and caused widespread damage in southeastern town of Lorca and surrounding areas, the Spanish prime minister's office said in a statement. A church clock tower crashed into the street and narrowly missed one television reporter as he conducted an interview in the town on Spanish public broadcaster TVE. The quake collapsed fronts of buildings which slumped into the streets and ripped huge gaps into walls. Television images showed shaken families and children gathering in squares and playgrounds in the town, seeking safety from collapsed buildings. Masonry and rubble blanketed streets. One image showed an apparently dead body lying in the street covered in a rescue blanket. A line of cars lay crushed under tonnes of rubble, according to photos published in the online edition of El Mundo.
The tremor struck at 6:47pm (0247 AEST) with a depth of 10 kilometres and could be felt in the capital Madrid. It hit nearly two hours after a smaller 4.4-magnitude quake. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was informed of the disaster while he was in a meeting with King Juan Carlos, the premier's office said in a statement. The king and prime minister then spoke to the president of the Murcia region and Zapatero immediately ordered the deployment of emergency military units to the area. Earthquake damages were concentrated on the towns of Lorca and Totana but also spread as far as Albacete and Velez-Rubio in Almeria, the premier's office said. It said the quake was magnitude 5.2. One doctor, identified only as Virtudes, said there were many injured. "I had just finished attending to a patient. We all went out into the streets and had to treat people, some with serious injuries, many unconscious, because the ambulances could not reach them. They took more than 40 minutes," she told the online edition of El Pais. "They just took away a man who had a wall fall on top of him."
Residents described confusion in the town. "This is chaotic. All the ground is full of rubble," resident Jesus Ruiz told the paper. "There are cracked buildings and all the ground is full of rubble and cornices. I saw them sewing up a child's head," said Ruiz, who was at work in an industrial zone when the quake struck. Cristina Selva, 32, said she was playing with her two-year-old daughters. "The building moved and I was very scared for the girls. I took them and the three of us got under the table to wait for it to pass," she said. "It was the longest 20 seconds of my life."
Situation Update No. 4
On 11.05.2011 at 19:13 GMT+2
Seven people were killed Wednesday when an earthquake struck southeastern Spain, the delegate of the government in Murcia told National Spanish Radio. The 5.3-magnitude quake occurred at 4:47 p.m. (10:47 a.m. ET) and was centered about 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of Murcia, near the Mediterranean coast, the U.S. Geological Survey said. That is about 350 kilometers (218 miles) south-southeast of Madrid. It was preceded at 3:05 p.m. by a 4.5-magnitude temblor centered in the same area, the survey said. At least one of the deaths occurred in a building collapse in the town of Lorca, state-run EFE said.
Situation Update No. 3
On 11.05.2011 at 19:06 GMT+2
Two earthquakes struck southeast Spain in quick succession Wednesday, causing houses to collapse, damaging historic churches and public buildings and killing at least six people. The epicenter of the quakes — with magnitudes of 4.4 and 5.2 — was close to the town of Lorca, and the second came about two hours after the first, an official with the Murcia regional government said on condition of anonymity in line with department policy. “Unfortunately, we can confirm ... deaths due to cave-ins and falling debris,” the mayor of Lorca, Francisco Jodar, told radio station Ser. “We’re trying to find out if there are people inside the collapsed houses.” A Murcia government spokesman said on the radio that six people had been killed in the earthquake. The quake hit at 6:47 p.m., according to data from Spain’s National Geographical Institute. The U.S Geological Survey said the epicentre was 1 km below the ground. Large chunks of stone and brick fell from the facade of a church in Lorca as Spanish state TV was broadcasting live from the scene. Nervous groups of residents gathered in public places, talking about what happened and calling relatives and friends on their cell phones. Lorca, which has a population of about 90,000 people, dates back to the Bronze Age and probably gained its name from the Romans. The old part of the town is made up of a network of narrow alleyways.
Situation Update No. 2
On 11.05.2011 at 18:55 GMT+2
Two earthquakes struck southeast Spain in quick succession Wednesday, killing at least three people and causing major damage to buildings, an official said. The epicenter of the quakes — with magnitudes of 4.4 and 5.2 — was close to the town of Lorca, and the second came about two hours after the first, an official with the Murcia regional government said on condition of anonymity in line with department policy. Large chunks of stone and brick fell from the facade of a church in Lorca as Spanish state TV was broadcasting live from the scene. Nervous groups of residents gathered in public places, talking about what happened and calling relatives and friends on their cell phones. The official said at least three people were killed. John Bellini, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado, said the larger earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 5.3 and struck 220 miles (350 kilometers) south-southeast of Madrid. The quake was about 10 kilometers (6 miles) deep, and was preceded by the smaller one with a magnitude 4.5 in the same spot, Bellini said. He classified the bigger quake as moderate and said it could cause structural damage to older buildings and masonry. The quakes occurred in a seismically active area near a large fault beneath the Mediterranean Sea where the European and African continents brush past each other, said USGS seismologist Julie Dutton. The USGS said it has recorded hundreds of small quakes in the area since 1990.
Situation Update No. 1
On 11.05.2011 at 18:37 GMT+2
Two strong earthquakes in quick succession rattled southern Spain on Wednesday, toppling buildings and killing several people, according to officials and media reports. The quakes killed at least seven people and injured dozens in the southern town of Lorca, El Pais newspaper reported, citing government officials. The epicenter was located in the Tercia mountains northeast of town, El Pais reported. Television footage showed rescue workers rushing through debris-littered streets. Lorca Mayor Francisco Jodar told local radio he feared that four deaths had been caused by falling debris, BBC News reported. El Pais said the quakes were of magnitude 5.1 and 4.5. But the U.S. Geological Survey measured the strongest at 5.3.