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Panicked residents poured into the streets after a powerful earthquake shook southern Greece on Thursday but the country appeared to escape major damage.
The quake measured at least 6.5 on the Richter scale with its epicentre just off the southern coast, according to Greek seismic experts who warned that violent aftershocks could follow.
The jolt was felt across the Peloponnese peninsula and up to the capital, Athens.
Costas Athanassopoulos, deputy mayor of Kalamata, told Greek radio that the shock was prolonged and caused widespread panic among the population of 60,000 in the southern coastal city where 20 people died in a quake 22 years ago.
Schools were evacuated at Tripoli in the centre of the peninsula, Net television reported.
The quake struck at 12:09 pm (1009 GMT) with the epicentre about 225 kilometers (140 miles) southwest of Athens, just off the coast of the Methoni region, said the Geo-Dynamic Institute of the Athens Observatory.
The US Geological Survey estimated it at 6.7 on its magnitude system. It had at first said the jolt was 7.3.
A quake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale also hit the peninsula on January 6. No casualties or major damage was reported then.
But Greece has more quakes than any other European country -- accounting for half the seismic shocks recorded on the continent -- and experts at the Athens institute said the population should be wary of aftershocks.
The epicenter of the latest quake was at a depth of about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles). A depth of less than 70 kilometers is considered fairly shallow, Randy Baldwin of the US National Earthquake Information Center said. (AFP)
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