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Which were Cyprus’ largest earthquakes?

September 13, 2018 at 1:41pm

Yesterday morning, a 5.5 magnitude quake, 170km northwest of Polis Chrysochous jolted Cyprus, fortunately without causing any injuries or damage.

According to a seismologist who was interviewed by Phileleftheros, there is a global increase in earthquakes in recent years.

Nature might be saving a big one for Cyprus, “which will happen at some point,” he said.

Although statistics cannot predict the future, they show that 3.8 earthquakes of a 5 magnitude on the Richter scale occur in Cyprus every 100 years.

This approximately translates into a 5  magnitude earthquake every 26 years.

An earthquake between of a 5-6  magnitude happens approximately every 36 years.

Since 1953, the Department of Geological Survey has recorded six earthquakes of a magnitude over 5. Yesterday’s was the seventh.

September 10 1953, – 6.1

A destructive double earthquake in the district of Paphos. It killed 40 and injured about 100 people leaving 4000 people homeless. Damage was reported from all of the 158 villages of Paphos. The villages of Stroumpi, Axylou, Kithasi, Lapithiou and Phasoula were totally destroyed. Within a few seconds, 1600 houses were totally ruined and 10,000 buildings suffered serious damage.

Casualties were limited because most people were out in the fields at the time the earthquake occurred. The earthquakes caused a small tsunami along the coast of Paphos. The shocks were strongly felt in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Kastellorizo, Rhodes and Turkey. About 26 aftershocks continued for over a year.

September 15, 1961 – 5.7

Moderate earthquake with epicenter off Larnaca. It was widely felt in Cyprus causing great panic and some damage in the southeast part of the island.

February 23, 1995 – 5.7

Destructive earthquake in Paphos which caused the death of 2 people. Several houses collapsed in the villages of Pano Arodes and Miliou. Some damage was caused to buildings in the villages of Peristerona, Steni, Gialia, Argaka, Pomos, Pyrgos, Lefka, Neo Chorio Akama, Latsi and Poli Chrysochous.

October 9, 1996 – 6.5

Very strong earthquake in the southwest of Cyprus. It caused panic in Paphos, Limassol, Nicosia, Larnaca and Famagusta. Two people lost their lives and 20 were lightly injured. There were damage reports especially from Paphos and Limassol.

August 11, 1999 – 5.6

Strong earthquake with epicenter near Gerasa village in Limassol that was strongly felt across the entire island. It caused damage to buildings in Limassol. Forty people were lightly injured mainly because of panic. A large number of aftershocks continued for months.

April 15, 2015 – 5.6

Strong earthquake with epicenter offshore from Kissonerga, Paphos. The earthquake caused minor damage and was felt across the island.

*May 3, 1222 – 7.0 – 7.5

One of the strongest earthquake to have been ever felt in Cyprus occured in May 1222. It had an estimated magnitude of 7.0–7.5 and triggered a tsunami that was recorded in Libya and Alexandria.

Much damage was caused at Limassol and Nicosia and other parts of the island, but the greatest damage was done at Paphos, where there was great loss of life. The castle of Paphos collapsed and the harbour was left without water.

A modern excavation at Paphos Castle found the remains of a man who apparently climbed into the castle’s main drain to escape the earthquake but was trapped there by falling masonry.

Other big quakes though the centuries include:

26 B.C. – Earthquake that affected Paphos and Egypt with possible tsunami.

15 B.C. – Earthquake that destroyed Paphos. The Romans rebuilt the city and renamed it Augusta.

76 A.D. – Salamina, Paphos and Larnaca were affected by a catastrophic quake.

332-333 A.D. – Salamina was destroyed by a strong earthquake.

342 A.D. – Paphos was completely destroyed again by an earthquake.

365-378 A.D. – An earthquake destroyed Kourion.

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Update: 5.5 magnitude quake jolts Cyprus