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Earthquake Rattles Balkans

April 24, 2002

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GNJILANE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ A moderate earthquake jolted areas throughout the central Balkans on Wednesday, killing one and leaving about 100 injured in Kosovo.

The quake’s preliminary magnitude was measured at 5.1, with its epicenter some 175 miles south of Belgrade, near the town of Vitina in the southern province of Kosovo, said Slavica Radulovic of the Seismological Institute of Serbia. The earthquake was first felt at 12:50 p.m.

In Gnjilane, some 20 miles east of Pristina, one man was killed and about 100 people were injured by flying glass, a doctor on the scene told an Associated Press Television News reporter. The victim was identified as Isuf Bicku, a 42-year-old barber.

The minaret of the town’s mosque collapsed and many buildings were seriously damaged, witnesses said.

An apparent aftershock hit Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, about 10 minutes later, with people rushing to leave buildings. In the southern Serbian cities of Vranje, Presevo and Bujanovac, people also ran out of buildings as the quake lasted for about 40 seconds, toppling several chimneys.

Across the border to the south, in the Macedonian capital, Skopje, hundreds waited on the city’s streets for almost two hours as a series of aftershocks followed.

Since an earthquake in 1963 killed 1,072 people in Skopje, buildings in the region have been constructed to withstand some degree of shaking.

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