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Quake rocks eastern France

BESANCON, France, Feb 23 (AFP) – An earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale Monday jolted parts of eastern France, southwestern Germany and western Switzerland, seismologists said.

The tremor plunged part of the French town of Besancon into darkness for more than one hour after it cut electricity supplies, but fire and police services reported no immediate casualties or major damage.

France’s earth sciences observatory in Strasbourg said the epicenter of the quake, which struck at 6:31 pm (1731 GMT), was in Baume-les-Dames, a town of 6,000 people around 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Besancon.

France’s electricity utility EDF said the power cut affected some 25,000 people in several areas of Besancon, including the town centre.

“I haven’t heard of any consequences from the quake,” Antoine Berthaut, head of Baume-les-Dames’ town hall services department, told AFP.

The tremor was felt in an area stretching from the French cities of Lyon and Strasbourg to Geneva in Switzerland to southwestern Germany, and sparked worried calls to media stations and local services from inhabitants.

“The quake happened in a region where there are regular earth tremors, even if they are much less powerful. It is related to the collision between the African and European plates,” said Michel Granet, head of the national seismic monitoring network.


                                                              Subject: France news