May 22, 2012 / 12:29 AM / 7 years ago

Bulgarian capital shaken by 5.6 magnitude quake

SOFIA (Reuters) - A 5.6 magnitude earthquake shook Bulgaria’s capital Sofia early on Tuesday, causing residents to rush into the streets, the civil defense office said.

QUAKE-BULGARIA/ - Map of Bulgaria locating the epicentre of a magnitude 5.6 earthquake to hit the country on Tuesday. RNGS.

The quake, which occurred at 3 a.m. local time, shook apartment buildings and rattled windows but caused no casualties or damage, Nikolay Nikolov, an official from the office was quoted as saying by the national radio, citing initial reports.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the temblor was centered about 14 miles west of Sofia and occurred at a relatively shallow depth of 5.8 miles.

USGS initially reported the magnitude as 5.8.

The civil defense office said the quake’s epicenter was near the western town of Pernik.

Pernik Mayor Rositsa Yanakieva told the national radio the quake caused chimneys to topple and an old house to collapse. Some 30 people in Pernik have sought medical help, complaining mainly of high blood pressure, she said.

Many people in the Bulgarian capital fled their homes and gathered in the streets.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Ivanka Georgieva, who lives on the eighth floor in a residential block, told Reuters. “It was very strong and it was frightening.”

The quake was felt across the southwestern part of Bulgaria.

The small Black Sea country of fewer than 8 million people lies in Europe’s earthquake-prone Balkan region.

Additional reporting by Eric Walsh in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott and Eric Beech

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