<p>Old Venetian fortress in Heraklion, Crete</p>

Old Venetian fortress in Heraklion, Crete

Crete earthquake: how will it affect my holiday?

A major earthquake just south of Heraklion shook the island at around 9am this morning

Lucy Thackray
Monday 27 September 2021 12:41
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Several hotels have been evacuated on Crete this morning following a 6.0-magnitude earthquake which struck the island at 9.17am local time.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) reported that the quake struck with an epicentre 16 miles southeast of the city of Heraklion, near the village of Arkalochori, and a depth of 6.2 miles.

A number of aftershocks have since struck the area, with the strongest one registering a magnitude of 4.6.

Other institutes have reported different seismological magnitudes, such as 5.8 and 6.5 R, which is not uncommon during the hours and days after an earthquake.

Vassilis Lambrinos, the mayor of Heraklion, initially told Greek Skai television that there were no immediate reports from emergency services of any injuries or severe damage, confirming that all schools in the city had been evacuated to check for structural damage.

But the mayor of Arkalochori Village, 18 miles south of Heraklion, has told Greek media that one person there has died due to the earthquake - reportedly a construction worker who was restoring a local church.

Civil protection authorities said nine people were injured in the quake, which damaged many buildings.

At least one hotel in the area has been evacuated, too.

So which parts of the island are affected, and what does this mean for holidays to Crete?

Which hotels were evacuated?

Most of the damage and aftershocks appear to be in the area around Heraklion, and the epicentre of the quake in Arkalochori.

Local media in Crete have reported that some old buildings in and around Arkalochori have experienced structural damage, with walls collapsing in villages near the epicentre.

The Athens News Agency website Amna.gr also reported damage to the water supply system in the wider administrative area of Archanes Asterousia.

Concerns about structural damage are the chief reason for evacuating buildings such as schools and hotels.

The Creta Maris beach resort in Hersonissos, a half hour’s drive east of Heraklion, was one of the hotels evacuated.

Sarah Williams-Long, a doctor at King’s Hospital in London, was staying at the resort with her partner and three-year-old son.

She told The Independent that the experience was harrowing.

She said: “They’ve evacuated us from our hotel in case there’s a second earthquake - we’re waiting to be taken to a hotel away from the higher buildings.

“We’ll hopefully be allowed back into the hotel if nothing happens in the next 40 minutes. It was terrifying. Initially there was just a very slight rumble, like waiting for a train underground, but it quickly increased causing the building to shake.

“Everyone instinctively got under the tables until we were asked to leave the building. Some people were visibly shaken - one of the chefs collapsed. It was very dramatic.”

A spokesperson for the hotel said: “Creta Maris Resort sustained no damage due to the earthquake, and no guests or staff members were injured.

“As part of Creta Maris’s comprehensive safety protocol, all guests and staff were evacuated and moved to designated outdoor areas for general safety precautionary reasons.

“An internal team of safety personnel conducted a comprehensive check of the facilities, and guests have already returned safely to the hotel.

“We have remained in close contact with the local authorities to ensure the ongoing safety of all our guests and team members.”

Other holidaymakers in Crete simply felt the rumble while at breakfast.

“Just casually eating breakfast when a 6.5 richter earthquake sends half the hotel guests screaming whilst the wife realises there’s no queue at the omelette station!” tweeted holidaymaker John Burton.

One holidaymaker in Kato Stalos - in the northwest, near Chania - reported that their “hotel was shaking”, saying the experience was “not fun”, while others reported feeling the tremors as far away as Gouves (18 miles away) Analipsi (11 miles away) and even Santorini (92 miles away).

Local Twitter user Yorgos Saslis said: “We REALLY FELT this one”, but said that the only damage he’d witnessed was “a few shattered picture frames”.

Turkey has now issued a tsunami warning following the earthquakes, when the effects of the aftershocks were felt in the Aegean Sea near the coastline around Datca.

Are flights or holidays being cancelled?

No airlines or tour operators have announced that they will be cancelling flights or holidays due to the earthquake.

As of 10am the Foreign Office had not updated its advice for travel to Greece with any information on the Cretan earthquake.

More information as we have it.

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