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Very Strong earthquake hits the Algarve … on this day in 1969

earthquakeChartAn earthquake struck western Portugal and Morocco on February 28th, 1969, at 02:40 – the early hours of the morning.

Originating off Sagres, the earthquake registered a magnitude of 7.8 and the maximum felt intensity was VII (Very strong) on the Mercalli intensity scale.

In total, thirteen people died. Eighty people sustained minor injuries in the biggest earthquake registered in Europe since the cataclysmic 1755 earthquake that hit Portugal and destroyed Lisbon.

The epicenter of the 1969 earthquake was within a zone known as the Azores–Gibraltar seismic belt, which marks the boundary between the African Plate and the Eurasian Plate.

The earthquake was registered at a point 180km southwest of Sagres and its effects were registered in the Algarve, Madeira, Morocco, Spain and France

At magnitude 7.8, the earthquake was considered “very powerful.” The resulting damage killed thirteen people – 11 in Morocco and two in Portugal.

Damage to local buildings was “moderate”, according to the United States Geological Survey. Overall, structures were prepared for the earthquake and responded well, sustaining slight, if any, damage.



1969 Portugal earthquake – technical details
Location off the coast of Morocco and Portugal
UTC time 1969-02-28 02:40:32
ISC event 812637
Local date February 28, 1969
Local time 02:40:32
Magnitude 7.8 Mw
Depth 22 km
Epicenter 36.017°N 10.950°WCoordinates: 36.017°N 10.950°W
Areas affected Portugal, Morocco
Tsunami 1.14 m (3 ft 9 in)
3 runups
Aftershocks 6.3 Mw Feb 28 at 04:25:35 UTC
Casualties 13 killed
80 injured