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Aftershocks Hit Region After Quake; Death Toll Rises to 13

May 31, 1990

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ A strong aftershock jolted Romania and Bulgaria early today, sending panicked people back into the streets and damaging more buildings a day after a major earthquake killed at least 13 people.

The aftershock struck at 3:18 a.m. and was the strongest of about 100 recorded after Wednesday’s quake, which was felt from Moscow to Istanbul and caused major damage to buildings in Romania and Bulgaria, officials said.

Romania’s Ministry of Health reported today that nine people were killed in Wednesday’s quake and 994 people sought hospital treatment. A ministry communique carried by Radio Bucharest said 207 people were hospitalized. The temblor also killed one person in Bulgaria and three in the Soviet Union.

There were no immediate reports of casualties today.

The Bulgarian news agency BTA said that, like Wednesday’s quake, today’s aftershock was centered in the Carpathian Mountain region of Vrancea in northern Romania.

The National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo., measured Wednesday’s quake at 6.5 on the Richter scale of ground motion and today’s main aftershock at 5.9.

A strong earthquake also struck near Mexico City today, frightening residents but apparently causing no serious damage or injuries. The quake registered 6.1 on the Richter scale.

Damage from the aftershock appeared most serious in Vrancea County, 190 miles northeast of Bucharest, where the state news agency Rompress reported ″panic and a large amount of material damage.″

Severely damaged were the mayor’s house, a theater, a medical center, the national bank and a building with 60 apartments in the county capital of Focsani, it said.

In northern Bulgaria, thousands of people frightened by the aftershock reportedly spent the night in the street, or fled their cities.

Cities and villages on the Danube river, including Ruse, Silistra and Svishtov ″were panic stricken,″ BTA said.

It said thousands of people milled around city streets all night, or fled in their cars. The city of Silistra has appealed for aid, saying it urgently needed glass, cement, bricks and tiles to repair damaged homes, schools, kindergartens and the lone hospital, the agency said.

In Bucharest, people fled into the streets and stood in small groups under dim lights. In the Bucharest Hotel, about a dozen people remained in the lobby, frightened to go upstairs.

Dumitru Enescu, director of Romania’s Earth Physics Institute, told Rompres that 100 aftershocks were recorded in the first 26 hours after Wednesday’s quake. Prof. Stefan Tataru, chief of a seismic station in Vrancea County, told Rompres that about 10 of the aftershocks registered between 3 and 4 on the Richter Scale and the rest were of lower intensity.

Damage reports from Wednesday’s quake continued to filter into the capital. In Urziceni, 38 miles east of Bucharest, the roof of a technical-medica l store collapsed, destroying the building. Nobody was injured.

In the capital Wednesday, chunks of concrete from high-rise buildings crashed to the ground, crushing two people to death. Ceilings fell, walls cracked, books toppled from shelves, and tens of thousands of people rushed into the streets, many crying and screaming in fear.

Romanians leaped in panic from windows and balconies, and some were badly hurt, ambulance officials said.

The quake hit when Bucharest’s streets were crowded with lunch-hour shoppers and pedestrians. It lasted about 45 seconds and was the third major earthquake since 1977 with its epicenter in the Romanian Carpathians.

The Uppsala Seismological Center in Sweden said it was felt so widely because it was about 63 miles deep.

″I think it was this deafening sound of cracking walls that scared people,″ said clerical worker Sica Burcea, 52. ″The building was swinging horizontally and vertically. We were lucky only to have some cracks in the walls. I shivered when I realized 1977 was coming back.″

More than 1,500 Romanians died in a 1977 earthquake.

In the Soviet republic of Moldavia, which borders Romania, the quake left three people dead and six hospitalized but caused little structural damage, the chairman of the national legislature said today.

Supreme Soviet Chairman Anatoly Lukyanov said in Moscow that one person died in Moldavia after jumping out a second-floor window and two elderly people died of heart attacks, the official Tass news agency reported.

BTA said one person died in Silistra of a quake-induced heart attack.

A communique from Romania’s General Inspectorate of Police said two people died in Bucharest, two in the Danube River port of Braila, and one each in eastern Buzau, southeastern Ialomita, central Brasov and nearby Prahova County.

Food shop clerk Petruta Lungu was killed in Bucharest when she ran outside and was hit by bricks and concrete falling from an upstairs wall, police said. A man’s body was pulled from rubble outside the shop.

The inspectorate reported 296 people injured, 45 critically. It said 35 of the critically injured were in Bucharest, where 102 people were hurt.

In Moscow, where the quake shook buildings, Soviet officials said it was felt from the Crimea to the Baltics and damaged dozens of buildings in the southwest. Telephone lines were knocked out and buildings shook in at least four Soviet republics.

In Istanbul, the Anatolia News Agency said tremors were felt in eastern Thrace in Turkey and elsewhere around the Marmara Sea region.

The Richter scale gauges the amount of energy released by a quake as measured by the ground motion recorded by seismographs. A quake of magnitude 6 can cause severe damage. One of magnitude 7 is reckoned as a major earthquake.

-90 1343EST

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