It only lasted a few seconds, but a massive earthquake that occurred Wednesday, registering at 6.0 magnitude, was enough to shake the Greek island of Crete, rock buildings dramatically and rattle its 10 million inhabitants.
Stavros Arnaoutakis, the island's regional governor reported on state television network ERT that the undersea tremor that took place at 9:23 a.m. (2:23 a.m. ET) reportedly didn't cause any massive damage to structures or cause any serious injuries. However, the quake's effect was felt as far away as Athens on the mainland, some 150 miles from the epicenter.
3 Homes Shaking
Witnesses who experienced the quake in Crete stated they felt two short bursts which cause vehicles to rock violently back and forth, while others heard balcony rails creaking and felt their homes shaking. George Kominos, vice-mayor of neighboring island Kythera, described how he and fellow citizens found themselves swaying with the tremors.
The folks on Crete were lucky. On Tuesday, an earthquake determined to be at 6.4 magnitude shook Albania that claimed 20 lives and hurt hundreds more. That was shortly followed by a 5.4-magnitude quake that struck Bosnia, leaving behind cracked walls and roofs but no reported injuries.
2 Serious Damage
Despite no accounts of casualties, authorities on Crete weren't taking any chances. They ordered a shutdown of schools and government buildings, which will be inspected for any serious damage. Seismologists determined that the quake, detected at 44 miles below sea level, is unlikely to cause any aftershocks.
Greece is especially prone to earthquakes, although most of them rarely cause any serious damage to property. But the country has experienced major episodes such as one estimated at 7.2 magnitude that hit the island of Samothrace in 2014. The last major quake experienced on Crete registered at 6.2 in 2011.
1 Tectonic Plates
Earthquake activity is particularly high in Greece since it sits near the junction of three tectonic plates that seismologist have labeled Eurasia, Aegean Sea and Africa. The plates in that region move at a rate of 1.25 inches a year and cause tremors when these masses rub up against each other.
Ironically that movement, especially between the African and Eurasian plates, caused part of the Earth's crust to rise above the water to create the island of Crete.