Greece conducts quake drill on tourist island of Crete

By By Stelios Misinas

CRETE, Greece (Reuters) – “Exercise, exercise, exercise”, read an emergency text message which alerted people on the island of Crete of a mock earthquake measuring 7.2 off the city of Heraklion.

Tourists rushed to evacuate the hotel, while workers in vests offered first aid to an injured woman in a tent as part of a quake drill dubbed “Minoas” after the mythical Cretan Bronze Age king.

It’s good, because then we know what we are doing in real situations,” said British tourist Leah Pickles, 36, one of the hotel‘s residents in Heraklion.

Greece is often rattled by earthquakes as it sits in multiple faults.

Since a strong quake killed 143 people near Athens in 1999, tremors have not caused severe fatalities or damage but the Mediterranean country has struggled with other emergencies such as wildfires and floods in recent years.

A wildfire on the island of Rhodes last summer consumed swathes of land and forced the evacuation of some 19,000 tourists and locals, weeks before Europe’s deadliest blaze killed at least 20 people and destroyed an area larger than New York in the Evros province in the north.

Separately on Tuesday, a wildfire near the city of Chania in western Crete forced authorities to evacuate part of a naval base and adjacent schools, hours before a real quake measuring 3.8 hit off the island’s southwestern coast.

A fire brigade official said later the blaze had abated.

(Reporting by Stelios Misinas; Writing by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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