Seismologists say Friday’s ‘quake was the biggest to affect the region in more than fifty years
Several parts of western France were shaken on Friday evening by the biggest earthquake to affect the region in a half-century, prompting the evacuation of some 170 people from the town of La Laigne and damaging several buildings across the locale.
The earthquake, which seismologists say registered between 5.2 and 5.8 on the Richter scale, was felt between Rennes in the EU country’s north-west and Bordeaux in the south-west. It occurred at approximately 6:30 pm on Friday.
Several homes, schools and churches were damaged in the rare quake, which is the strongest to have hit the region since 1972. Earthquakes with a magnitude above five are rare in France, with the most recent one occurring in November 2019.
At least two aftershocks were recorded on Saturday, leading to concerns that buildings damaged in the initial ‘quake could become unstable.
Authorities have indicated that there were no fatalities in the various affected towns. Two people received injuries as a result of the earthquake in the town of Deux-Sevres. Fallen electricity cables in the neighboring town of Charente-Maritime left around 1,100 people without power.
“It is an unusual earthquake on our territory,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said while on a visit in the north of the country. “I would like to express my solidarity with the populations who have been worried.”
Borne added that authorities will “obviously ensure” that people affected by the earthquake will have access to rehousing should it be required.
France’s interior minister Gerald Darmanin said, meanwhile, that the country’s government will activate natural-disaster recognition measures to swiftly identify structural damage to buildings which might require immediate attention from engineers.
In La Laigne, the local fire department warned that the church had become “completely unusable.” A school has also been closed as a precaution, and a local government official said that the majority of homes in the town’s center had been damaged to some extent by the earthquake.
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