The last earthquake felt in LEROS was in July 2017. While it did not do any damage to the island was not the same in KOS with a destroyed church and large cracks at the port landing site which is currently under repair.

Earthquakes in  Greece have always existed,with hundreds of islands and steep reliefs giving it a picturesque and heavenly character. Greece lives daily with the earthquake but prides itself on living in the most beautiful country in Europe.

Why are there earthquakes in Greece? Greece is located at the meeting of two tectonic plates: the African and the Eurasian. At the time of the dinosaurs, it was covered by the sea and then the approximation between the plates created the alpine mountain ranges of Greece.

This conflicting movement  fractured the Eurasian plate, creating the Plate of the Aegean Sea. Huge slicks of carting in western Greece make the beaches crystal-like limestone.

The tectonic movement continues and thus produces many fairly regular earthquakes. Two faults are particularly active : the first travels the Aegean from east to west (from RODOS to the west of the CRETA)  then goes up along the Peloponnese to CORFU  and the second goes from the north-west of TURKEY to the sporades islands (east of mainland Greece) joining CORINTHE.

Why should we not live in fear  of earthquakes in Greece?  

  • Because Greeks are used to regularly feeling small earthquakes. The feeling is cold but you get used to it with time and then it’s part of our life on earth.
  • Because the laws regarding the construction of houses are strict. They can come out intact to a magnitude  of 7 on the Richter scale.
  • Because there are regular prevention exercise programs in schools and public places.
  • Because very deadly earthquakes are not common, due to an earthquake every 15 years or so.

Timeline of deadly earthquakes in Greece:

  • On July 27, 365,an earthquake shakes Crete: 50,000 dead.
  • On December 22, 856,a 7.2-magnitude earthquake killed 45,000 people in the Corinth region.
  • May 29, 1508 :  Strong earthquake in Ierapetra, southernCrete (7.2 at the Richter scale). There are 300 dead.
  • February 16, 1810 : An earthquake at about 7.8 Scale Richter ) killed  3,000 people
  • October 12, 1856;:an earthquake at 8.2 Scale Richter killed 540 people on the Cretan island and seriously injured 640.
  • August 12, 1953 :A magnitude 7.2 earthquake devastates the island of Kephalonia  like 60 atomic bombs. Entire villages are swallowed by cracks opening in the ground,  others are swept away by landslides. About 450 people died.
  • July 9, 1956 : In Amorgos, Dodekanisos,a 7.5 Scale Richter earthquake  causes a tsunami with waves 20m high on the surrounding islands. 50  dead
  • June 20, 1978:Earthquake in Thessaloniki, magnitude 6.5, killing 47 people.
  • In 1986,a 6.0 Scale Richter earthquake killed 20 people, injured hundreds more and homeless thousands in Kalamata (southern Peloponnese).
  • September 7, 1999:Richter Scale Earthquake in Athens: 140 dead and 60,000 homeless.
  • February 3, 2014, an earthquake of 5.8 Scale Richeter shakes the island of Kehalonics. No casualties but the Region of Kecaronia had not experienced such a large tremor since 1953.

How to protect yourself from an earthquake when you  are on holiday in Turkey, Greece,Italy etc or another country at risk outside Europe ?  First of all, you have to keep your cool. If you are in a building, put yourself under the door frame or if possible under a table and stay away from the  windows. If you are on the street, head to a crossroads or space. You need with  you permanently the following things: a small battery-operated radio , a flashlight battery and a whistle.

Seism in Leros

Cracks on the port of Kos Credit photo AFP