An unusually strong earthquake shakes western France

Status: 06/17/2023 12:58 PM

Great shock on the French Atlantic coast: the area around La Rochelle was hit by an earthquake and nocturnal aftershocks. The fire department is now examining the damage.

Stephanie Markert

A resident of Niort, France, said on Twitter that she “feared for her life”. Everything shook, the walls seemed to move towards them and it seemed that the front door was going to explode, the eyewitness wrote. That was at 6:38 p.m. on Friday.

At that time, the relevant authorities in France recorded an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.3 to 5.8 in the departments of Deux-Sevres and Charente-Maritimes. There was an aftershock early in the morning at 4:30 am.

La Rochelle is also affected

In the Atlantic region are the famous holiday islands of Ile de Ré and Ile d’Oléron, where an earthquake occurred half a century ago, but also La Rochelle with its beautiful old town. Jean-François Fontaine, the mayor there, appeared relaxed on French news channel BFM-TV, though his countrymen called city hall agitated and anxious.

Don’t panic, his answer was, you are in a seismic zone. At least at level 3 out of 5. The earthquake hot spots in France are the Pyrenees and mountainous areas in the southeast. The mayor said he believes there is still construction going on somewhere.

Cracked walls and damaged chimneys

They will be necessary now, because pictures show fallen roof tiles, damaged chimneys, cracks in house walls, loose tiles on terraces and walls from which plaster has collapsed. The fire brigade is everywhere to inspect the damage.

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Seismologist Jerome van der Ward assessed the recent earthquake on the BFM news channel as “significant” for France and compared it to 2019 in the Ardèche. However, compared to devastating earthquakes around the world, it is weak.

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