10 die in two Spanish quakes

TWO earthquakes struck southeast Spain in quick succession, killing at least 10 people, injuring dozens and causing major damage to buildings, officials said.

The epicentre of the quakes — with magnitudes of 4.4 and 5.2 — was close to the town of Lorca, and the second came two hours after the first, an official with the Murcia regional government said.

The regional government said a hospital in Lorca was being evacuated, dozens of injured people were being treated at the scene and a field hospital was being set up. It said the 10 deaths included a child and occurred with the second, stronger quake.

Large chunks of stone and brick fell from the facade of a church in Lorca as Spanish state TV was broadcasting live from the scene.

A large church bell was also among the rubble. The broadcaster reported that schoolchildren usually gather at that spot around that time, and if it had happened 10 minutes later, a “tragedy” could have occurred.

John Bellini, of the US Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center, said the larger earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 5.3 and struck about 350km south-southeast of Madrid.

The quake was about 10km deep, and was preceded by the smaller one, Bellini said.

He classified the bigger quake as moderate and said it could cause structural damage to older buildings and masonry.


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