Six die after Algerian quake sparks panic in capital

ALGIERS Fri Aug 1, 2014 9:38am EDT

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ALGIERS (Reuters) - At least six people died after a magnitude 5.5 earthquake hit southeast of the Algerian capital on Friday, shaking buildings and sending panicked families rushing into the streets of Algiers, authorities said.

The United States Geological Survey said the quake had struck nine miles (14 km) southeast of Algiers and its epicenter was recorded at a relatively shallow depth of 6.2 miles.

There were no reports of major damage, according to Algerian state television. But four people died trying to jump from windows or escape their buildings in panic and another two died of heart attacks, a health official said.

Many Algerians still have strong memories of 2003 when Algeria's strongest earthquake in years - measuring 6.7 - struck the capital and surrounding areas, killing at least 2,000 people and crumbling buildings in nearby towns.

(Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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