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Quakes kill 10 in southern Spain

Associated Press / May 12, 2011

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MADRID — Two earthquakes struck southeast Spain in quick succession yesterday, killing at least 10 people, injuring dozens, and causing major damage to buildings, officials said. It was the highest quake-related death toll in Spain in more than 50 years.

The epicenter of the quakes — with magnitudes of 4.4 and 5.2 — was close to the town of Lorca, and the second came about two hours after the first, an official with the Murcia regional government said on condition of anonymity in line with department policy.

Dozens of injured people were being treated at the scene and at a field hospital set up in the town of about 85,000 people, officials said. About 270 patients at a hospital in Lorca were being evacuated by ambulance as a precaution after the building sustained minor damage, the Murcia regional government said.

The quakes occurred in a seismically active area near a large fault beneath the Mediterranean Sea where the European and African continents brush past each other, said seismologist Julie Dutton of the US Geological Survey.

Meanwhile yesterday, the day a now-dead scientist purportedly predicted a devastating temblor would strike Rome, about 22 earthquakes struck Italy by noon. That was normal for the quake-prone country, and none did any damage to the city.

Despite efforts by seismologists to debunk the myth of a major Roman quake on May 11, 2011, and stress that quakes can never be predicted, some Romans left town.

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