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Quake wrecks old buildings in Crete, killing one person

Properties are illuminated at night in this aerial view of Athens, Greece, on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011. Greece's budget deficit will also narrow thanks to measures already approved by lawmakers in October, including cuts in public sector wages and pensions, a plan to put 30,000 public sector workers in a labor reserve on reduced pay and a property tax levied on Greeks' electricity bills. Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

ATHENS, Sept 27 (Reuters) - An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 shook Greece's largest island, Crete, on Monday morning, killing one person and injuring several, authorities said.

By Angeliki Koutantou and George Georgiopoulos

The tremor sent people fleeing out of homes, schools and public buildings across the island. Damage was reported to many old buildings close to the epicentre, in the east of the island.

The Greek infrastructure ministry said it had sent a group of civil engineers to assess the structural damage and assist in relief efforts.

A man died when the dome of a small chapel in the town of Arkalochori, some 30 km (20 miles) outside Crete’s main city Heraklion, caved in during renovation works, a police official said. The church was largely reduced to rubble.

Civil protection authorities said nine people were injured in the quake, which damaged mainly old, unοccupied buildings in the wider Arkalochori region.

Nevertheless many people in Heraklion rushed outdoors. Schoolchildren were told to leave their classrooms, gathering in schoolyards and town squares.

Supermarket shelves were toppled or emptied by the tremor. Schools in the Heraklion region were closed for the day.

A civil protection official said hotel rooms would be made available for people needing to stay outside their homes overnight, and 2,500 tents would also be put up.

The Athens Geodynamic Institute put the quake’s magnitude at 5.8 and said it was centred at a depth of 10 km, with an epicentre 23 km (14 miles) northwest of Arvi in southeastern Crete.

Earlier, the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) had measured the earthquake at a magnitude of 6.5, while the United States Geological Survey (USGS) put it at 6.0. (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou, George Georgiopoulos; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Kevin Liffey)

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