LISBON, July 9 (AFP) - An earthquake measuring 6.2 on the
Richter scale left at least ten people dead, 90 injured and 1,000
homeless on the Azores islands, rescue services said Thursday.
Rescue teams feared they would not able to find victims still
buried under the rubble. "We understand there are still people under
the rubble," an official said.
The earthquake centred on the island of Fayal, whose main port
Horta is a stopping-off point for most of the pleasure boats
cruising the Atlantic Ocean archipelago.
All the victims were local residents from the two inland
villages of Ribeirinha and Espalhafatos who died when their houses
Around 100 people from Fayal were admitted to hospital suffering
from slight injuries or shock, a hospital offical said.
Portguese television was quick to show footage of buildings
collapsing like houses of cards and roads cracking wide open.
"It was horrible, a real calamity," said one survivor from
Ribeirinha. "The houses collapsed at one blow. We fled, running down
the street and screaming like mad for help."
"The ground is still shaking from time to time. We haven't got
water or electricity. It's the worst thing we've ever known. Only
half a dozen buildings are still standing, everything's ruined,"
Around 100 houses were destroyed or seriously damaged and 1,000
of the 10,000 islanders have been made homeless by the quake, which
occurred at 0519 GMT and lasted between 15 and 30 seconds.
Portuguese Prime Minsiter Antonio Guterres and Interior Minister
Jorge Coelho flew to Fayal to assess the extent of the damage for
President Jorge Sampaio cancelled his appointments for the day
to keep up with developments.
A Portuguese air force C-130 was scheduled to take off for the
Azores later Thursday with a team of doctors and firemen to back up
local rescue services, as well as bringing dogs trained in finding
The plane was also to bring army tents, blankets and other
The earthquake was the worst in the Azores since January 1 1980,
when the historic town of Angra do Heroismo, capital of the island
of Terceira, was badly hit, leaving 69 dead and 15,000 homeless.