SKOPJE: A moderate 5.3-magnitude earthquake, preceded by two and followed by several tremors, struck the Macedonian capital Skopje on Sunday, causing panic but only minor damage, officials said.
Skopje was almost destroyed by a powerful quake in 1963 which killed around a thousand people.
Sunday’s quake hit at 3:10 pm (1310 GMT), with the epicentre in the Skopje area, seismologists said, adding some 10 weaker tremors were later registered.
“In Skopje and surroundings some damages have been reported that occurred on older buildings,” the country’s seismological service said in a statement.
The quake was felt throughout the Balkan country, Dragana Cernic of the seismological service said earlier citing reports on minor damage, such as cracked walls and broken furniture.
However, some 60 panicked Skopje residents sought hospital treatment, some suffering broken limbs while trying to flee.
All but three were later discharged, hospital officials said.
Parts of Skopje were without power and some mobile phone providers were down.
Many residents said they were terrified.
“I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to return to my building,” a fearful Skopje resident, Mirjana Jovanovska, who remembered the 1963 quake, said outside her home.
“It was horrible… I was in a hospital when it happened and everyone ran outside, including patients on a drip, everyone,” Dani Kavadarska, a 53-year-old woman, told AFP. “There is not a single doctor or nurse left inside.”
On Sunday evening many Skopje residents were still on the streets or in parks fearing to return to their homes.