Expatica news

Spain feels tremorwhich kills 569

24 February 2004

MELILLA – A powerful earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale struck the Moroccan coast Tuesday killing 569 and injuring hundreds more.

The National Geographic Institute said the quake came at 3.27am and had its epicentre 15 kilometres (10 miles) southwest of the Moroccan coastal town of Al Hoceima.

The tremor was felt in the autonomous Spanish city of Melilla, on the north African coast,  80 kilometres away from the epicentre,  and in the Spanish mainland in Andalusia, Murcia and Valencia.

The identities or nationalities of the victims were not yet known. But most appeared to be from Al Hoceima and surrounding rural areas.

The quake has caused massive damage to Al Hoceima

According to a spokesman for the civil defence authority in the town, Ait Kamara,  the town was “completely destroyed”.

He added: “There are many dead.”

Witnesses said when the quake happened, they were woken and felt their houses moving.

It was only said to have lasted 20 seconds.

Police patrolling the streets tried to calm people who left their houses in a state of shock.

The Spanish King Juan Carlos made a telephone call to the King Mohammed VI of Morocco to offer help from Spain.

Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar has sent his condolences to the families of the victims and the Moroccan people.

The population of Melilla is about 69,000, and the autonomous city is 14 square kilometres (5.4 square miles) in area.

The institute said that, on the Iberian Peninsula, the tremor was felt in southern Andalusia and in the south-eastern region of Murcia.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
                                                Subject: Spanish news