Madrid, May 12 : A magnitude 5.2 quake killed at least 10 people in southern Spain on Wednesday, sending buildings crashing down as panicked residents fled for their lives.Ten people perished in the first deadly tremor in Spain more than four decades, officials said.
The quake collapsed fronts of buildings in the southeastern town of Lorca and ripped huge gaps into walls, which slumped into the streets. Witnesses reported many injuries.
A church clocktower crashed to the ground and narrowly missed one television reporter as he conducted an interview in the town on Spanish public broadcaster TVE.
Television images showed shaken families and children gathering in squares and playgrounds in the town, some weeping and hugging as they sought safety. Masonry and rubble blanketed streets.
An apparently dead body lay in the street covered in a rescue blanket, television showed.A line of parked cars lay crushed under tonnes of rubble, photos published in the online edition of El Mundo showed.
The tremor struck at 6:47 pm (1647 GMT) with a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles) and could be felt as far away as the capital Madrid. It hit nearly two hours after a smaller 4.4-magnitude quake.A doctor said many people had been hurt.
"I had just finished attending to a patient. We all went out into the streets and had to treat people, some with serious inuries, many unconscious, because the ambulances could not reach them. They took more than 40 minutes," the doctor, identified only as Virtudes, told the online edition of El Pais.
"They just took away a man who had a wall fall on top of him."Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was informed of the disaster while he was in a meeting with King Juan Carlos, the premier's office said in a statement. The king and prime minister then spoke to the president of the Murcia region and Zapatero immediately ordered the deployment of emergency military units to the area.
Earthquake damages were concentrated in the towns of Lorca and Totana but also spread as far as Albacete and Velez-Rubio in Almeria, the premier's office said, confirming 10 dead.Residents described confusion in the town of 92,700 inhabitants, which lies 70 kilometres (45 miles) southeast of Murcia."This is chaotic. All the ground is full of rubble," resident Jesus Ruiz told the paper.
"There are cracked buildings and all the ground is full of rubble and cornices. I saw them sewing up a child's head," said Ruiz, who was at work in an industrial zone when the quake struck.
Cristina Selva, 32, said she was playing with her two-year-old daughters. "The building moved and I was was very scared for the girls. I took them and the three of us got under the table to wait for it to pass," she said."It was the longest 20 seconds of my life."
It was the deadliest earthquake to rock Spain since April 19, 1956 when a tremor wrecked buildings and killed 11 people in Albolote, a town in the southern Spanish province of Granada.
The last earthquake to claim lives in Spain struck February 28, 1969, damaging buildings in Huelva and Isla Cristina in the southwest, seismological institute records showed. That quake killed 19 people in total but most of the victims were from outside Spain.AFP