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Earthquake hits Greek island

A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude between 5.7 and 6.1 hit the western Greek island of Kefalonia before dawn Monday, sending frightened residents into the streets just over a week after a similar quake damaged hundreds of buildings, reviving memories of a disaster in the 1950s.

Authorities said about 16 people had been slightly hurt, mainly by falling objects, while roads, homes and shops were damaged and some areas suffered power and water supply cuts. Islanders also had to contend with intense bad weather, with strong rain and low temperatures.

Kefalonia Mayor Alexandros Parisis said the port at the island's second largest town of Lixouri, the closest to the epicenter, had been damaged. Images from the area showed part of the pier breaking off and boats that had been on land for repair toppling over.

Earthquakes have been rattling Kefalonia constantly for the past week, after a 5.9-magnitude temblor struck the area on Jan. 26, damaging homes and slightly injuring seven people. Since then, thousands of residents have been spending nights with relatives or in ships sent to accommodate them.

Schools on the island have been shut for the past week, and had not been scheduled to reopen until Wednesday, said Deputy Mayor Evangelos Kekatos.

Authorities urged the islanders to remain calm and not approach any damaged buildings.

An eight-member rescue team with a sniffer dog was heading to the island as a precaution, the fire department said, while Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias and his ministry's secretary general were also heading to Kefalonia to co-ordinate the response.

The armed forces was sending two military transport aircraft carrying 30 personnel and three doctors as well as tents and emergency supplies, while a military ship was sailing to the island with digging vehicles, a mobile kitchen and a water tanker among other equipment, the Defence Ministry said.

The Athens Geodynamic Institute registered the pre-dawn quake, which struck just after 5 a.m. local time, with a magnitude of 5.7 and an epicenter 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) northwest of the island's capital of Argostoli. The U.S. Geological Survey registered a 6.1-magnitude. It is common for institutes to register different figures.

The Canadian Press

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