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Iceland rocked by earthquake

  • Story Highlights
  • Strong earthquake shakes southern Iceland on Thursday afternoon
  • U.S. Geological Survey says quake was 6.1 magnitude
  • Epicenter 50 kilometers (30 miles) east, south-east of the capital Reykjavik
  • Residents near epicenter told to check on relatives
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(CNN) -- An earthquake shook southern Iceland on Thursday, reportedly causing injuries and damaging roads and buildings.


A seismograph at the Institute of the Earth Sciences, University of Iceland, shows earthquake activity.

The 6.1 magnitude temblor struck about 3:46 p.m. (11:46 a.m. ET), according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Its epicenter was about 50 km (31 miles) east-southeast of the capital, Reykjavik, and was about 10 km (6.2 miles) below the Earth's surface.

It was unclear exactly how many people were injured or the severity of their injuries, Olli Tynes, a journalist with Reykjavik's Channel 2, told CNN.

A hospital in a town near the epicenter was also reported damaged, and some wings have had to be evacuated, he said.

There were no reports of fatalities, but "great material damage," Tynes said. Roads and bridges in the area have been closed.

The Associated Press, quoting civil defense authorities, reported 15 to 20 people from Selfoss, near the epicenter, were taken for medical treatment.

Iceland's emergency management agency has swung into action, and rescue crews were headed to the area most affected by the quake.

Tynes said he has been speaking to residents of the towns closest to the epicenter. "They said they thought the world was coming to an end," he said. "They thought they were going to die."

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There have been no reports of homes collapsing, as most homes in Iceland are built to withstand earthquakes, he said.

Alti Mar Gylfason said he had received reports of damage to the road that rings the island nation. The quake was felt nationwide, he said.


"It was a little bit like you're sleeping in a waterbed, you know ... everything floats around," he said, adding that people poured out of buildings into the street. "This is not something we experience on a normal basis."

Although Iceland is seismically active, its last major quakes were on June 17 and June 21, 2000, with quakes of 6.5 and 6.4, respectively. The temblors damaged homes and buildings, but caused no serious injuries.

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