Quake Rocks Spain

May 11, 2011 | Natural Disasters, Top News

A 5.1 in magnitude earthquake rocked  southeastern Spain killing 10  people and with more than 40 injured.  It is expected that around 10,000 people will be displaced as a result of the damages to properties and buildings. This is the worst earthquake to hit the country in 50 years.  It occurred within the region that separates the Africa and Eurasia plates.

In one of the reports, the belfry of  the church in the city of Santiago has fallen and most of the public buildings have been damaged. In the southeastern town of Lorca the fronts of buildings collapsed and  ripped huge gaps into walls which slumped into the streets.

The tremor occurred at 4:47 p.m. (10:47 a.m. ET)  near the Mediterranean coast and about 350 kilometers (218 miles) south-southeast of Madrid. Series of aftershocks followed.

Here is an experience from one of the  nurses  in the town of Lorca, “The roof of the hospital dropped. In the 2nd earthquake, cracks occurred in the hospital Rafael Mendez and some patients have gone to the streets nervous. People are confused and they say in the corridors some have fallen to the ground and that many tiles fell and broke … very afraid, very afraid. Many things have fallen to the ground. Phew noise of sirens everywhere.”

Rescue and relief operations are now being undertaken and the cost of the damages are still unknown. The  deployment of emergency military units to the area was ordered by the king and prime minister of Spain. The residents in the affected areas spent the night in public squares and playgrounds,  slept in tents and cardboard boxes in fear of aftershocks.

How quakes happen? The chief danger of violent quakes and tsunamis happen in subduction faults. When one of the two colliding plates slips, or subducts underneath, the plates are said to be in a state of seismic quiescence, hence, no effects can be felt on the ground. At some point, however, the subducting plate moving underneath towards the opposite plate can get stuck, creating huge amount of tension . The longer it takes for the tension to released, the more deadly the ensuing effects would be.

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