Strong Quake Jolts Europe,, Kills 8 in Romania
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ An earthquake that was felt from Istanbul to Moscow hit Romania hard Wednesday, killing eight people, hurting 296 and badly damaging buildings in Bucharest and cities across much of Romania, police said.
Large chunks of concrete and plaster fell from buildings onto sidewalks and streets, killing and injuring people.
Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert of Glasgow, Scotland, staying in an apartment in a 10-story building in Bucharest, said: ″The walls of the bedroom crumbled with plaster falling. Stuff came flying off shelves and all the plaster came off the ceilings. Outside there’s a massive crack in the building.″
People were hurt jumping from windows or balconies in this capital city of 2.2 million. Thousands of Bucharest residents fled into streets as buildings swayed and cracked.
Shop assistant Petruta Lungu was killed in Bucharest when hit by a collapsing balcony as she ran outside, police said.
The quake was centered 100 miles north of Bucharest, in the wooded Vrancea range of the Carpathian mountains, and registered 6.5 on the Richter scale, the U.S. Geological Survey said in Golden, Colo.
The temblor also shook the Soviet Union, Hungary, Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria, but of those only the Soviet Union reported casualties. It said at least six people were hurt in the city of Kogul.
Soviet legislator Ilmars Bishers said initial reports Wednesday indicated there were deaths, but he gave no details.
The quake hit here at 1:40 p.m. (6:40 a.m. EDT) and rumbled across the Carpathians, which run through eastern Romania, the western border of the Soviet Union and southwest Poland.
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.
It said 45 of the 296 people hurt were in critical condition. In Bucharest alone, 102 people were hurt, 35 critically, it reported.
Doina Stoica, 22, a student, said: ″I was scared. I was in a book shop and the first thought was to get my mom and get out on the street.″
French journalist Michel Desprats, 24, noticed chandeliers swaying in the marble lobby of the Bucuresti Hotel - ″In panic, I followed all the people out of the hotel and people were all shouting and crying.″
The ceiling collapsed at a big electrical steel plant in Calarasi County in southern Romania, the state news agency Rompres reported.
In Moscow, Soviet officials said people from the Crimea to the Baltics felt the quake and dozens of buildings were damaged in the southwestern part of the country.
In Ottawa, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev said he was told several shocks shook Moldavia and Armenia but ″no devastation, no destruction.″ He said he saw no reason to break off his trip to return home, as he did in December 1988, when a quake killed an estimated 25,000 people in Armenia. The 1988 quake prompted him to cut short travel plans and fly directly home from New York.
Buildings shook in Moscow, 1,000 miles east of Bucharest, including the offices of The Associated Press. The 10-story U.S. Embassy building was evacuated temporarily.
Six people were hospitalized in Kogul, Moldavia, Lt. Ivan Koltuk of the regional Interior Department said. He said buildings swayed and residents ran in panic into the streets.
The Soviet news agency Tass reported the quake was felt as far north as Leningrad and the Baltic republic of Latvia.
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.
The Romanian General Inspectorate’s communique reported injuries from the counties of Dolj, Prahova, Buzau, Ialomita, Galati, Braila, Constanta, Vaslui, Bacau and Vrancea.
Bulgaria’s state BTA news agency said the temblor was felt nationwide there, but there was minor damage only in Silistra town, bordering Romania. A nuclear power plant in Kozlodoui on the Danube was closed.
The quake knocked out telephone lines in the Soviet Union and shook buildings in Russia, the Ukraine and Moldavia.
This was the third major earthquake in Romania since 1977. The other two were also centered in the Vrancea range. The most serious, on March 4, 1977, killed 1,500 people.