‘Very strong’ earthquake shakes France

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A rare 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit large parts of western France on Friday evening, with the seismology bureau BCSF calling it “very strong” amid reports of damage to buildings.

Ecology transition minister Christophe Bechu said it was “one of the strongest quakes registered on the mainland.”

AFP records show the last earthquakes of similar strength in France struck in the early 2000s.

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The national network for seismic surveillance RENASS recorded the quake at 5.3 while the French Central Seismological Bureau (BCSF) put it at 5.8.

In the Deux-Sevres department one was person was slightly injured and treated on the spot, the prefecture said.

“A series of material damage was reported from the southwest of the department,” with stone falling off buildings and cracks appearing in walls, the prefecture’s statement said.

Further south in the neighboring Charente-Maritime department cracks appeared in buildings and a power line came down leaving 1,100 homes in the dark.

The earthquake was felt as far afield as Rennes in the north and Bordeaux in the southwest.

In the city of Tours, on the Loire river, law student Lea Franke said she was reading on her bed when she felt the tremors.

“I stood up and the whole apartment was shaking ... it lasted for several seconds then stopped,” she told AFP.

“I was very frightened, I live on the third floor ... I thought the floor was going to cave in.”

Earthquakes of a magnitude above five are rare in France with the last one recorded in the southeastern department of Drome in 2019.

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