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Aftershocks feared in Greece

A day after a powerful earthquake in southwestern Greece killed two people and injured nearly 150, seismologists on Monday warned that a strong aftershock was expected.

The quake, which had a preliminary magnitude of 6.5, struck Sunday afternoon near the western port city of Patras, about 120 miles west of Athens, the Athens Geodynamic Institute said.

It flattened about 70 houses in the provinces of Ahaia and Ilia, severely damaged another 30 and left 230 more with lighter damage and cracks, the Interior Ministry said Monday. The quake also damaged the air traffic control tower at a nearby military airport.

In Patras, harbor buildings were damaged while authorities evacuated five apartment buildings that suffered severe cracks.

Dozens of aftershocks have rattled the area in the hours since the quake, but all have been relatively small, with preliminary magnitudes below 4.7, the Geodynamic Institute said. But “the next two to three 24-hour periods remain critical,” said Giorgos Stavrakakis, head of the Athens Geodynamic Institute.

A strong aftershock of a magnitude of about 5 or 5.5 is still expected in the coming days or possibly weeks, seismologist Giannis Kalogeras said.

“An earthquake of 6.5 in western Greece has a rich post-seismic activity,” he said. “An earthquake of 5 or 5.5 is expected. That is based on our experience of the region.”

By Monday, 147 people had sought medical treatment for injuries sustained during the quake, the Interior Ministry said. Sixteen remained hospitalized.

In the small mountain village of Santomeri, farmer Nikos Dimopoulos' house was demolished by a 13-foot boulder that crashed down the hillside. “I have nowhere to stay,” said Dimopoulos, 72, who was tending his sheep when the quake struck. “I'll spend the night in my stable.”

Officials said a preliminary survey showed the major archaeological site of Ancient Olympia, birthplace of the ancient Olympics, was undamaged. In the small museum of Ancient Elis, near the epicenter, 50 ancient vases and two stone inscriptions were damaged.

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