An earthquake of a magnitude of 5.7 to 5.9 struck the Bulgarian city of Pernik, 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) northwest of the capital Sofia.
The quake, the worst in the Sofia area since 1917, shook the country at 2:58 a.m. local time, causing walls and roofs to collapse in Pernik and chimneys and plaster to fall in Sofia, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said on the ministry’s website today. There were no casualties, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said in an interview with Nova Television station.
The capital city’s airport, railways and subway are working and no damage to infrastructure in the country has been reported, Construction Minister Liliana Pavlova told reporters in Sofia. In Pernik, which was worst affected by the quake, the heating utility was shut down and schools were closed for today and tomorrow.
“I am grateful there are no serious damages and the country’s infrastructure withstood an earthquake of such a magnitude,” Borissov said in the television interview in Sofia.
The quake was registered throughout the Balkan nation of 7.5 million and in neighboring Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece and Romania. Many people in Sofia, Pernik and other cities left their houses and spent the rest of the night on the streets, in parks and other open areas, fearing stronger aftershocks.
“The high number of aftershocks with subsiding magnitude indicate a gradual release of terrestrial tension and hopefully there won’t be another strong earthquake soon,” Nikolai Miloshev, director of the National Geophysics Institute, told reporters in Sofia. The quake was followed by about 80 aftershocks in the next six hours, he said.
The power grid in the Pernik area was damaged, cutting off electricity for about 2,700 households, the Bulgarian unit of CEZ AS (CEZ), which is the power distributor in western Bulgaria, said in an e-mail. Emergency units are working to restore supplies, according to the statement.
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