Picture - Le Monde
The French newspaper "Le Monde" published an article entitled "Unprecedented major earthquakes are possible in Europe," in which 50 scientists-seismologists and engineers say that countries such as Greece, Italy and Turkey could become the epicentre of an earthquake with a magnitude of about 9 degrees on the Richter scale. The article also published maps which marked the most dangerous areas where a major earthquake may occur in the respective colour varying from yellow to dark red.
The study was carried out within the SHAPE programme (Seismic Hazard Harmonization in Europe), 80% of the costs of which are funded by the European Union. It has collected seismic activities on the continent during the past 30 years. Scientists pointed out that the last earthquake with a magnitude of 9 degrees on the Richter scale was in March 2011, near Fukuyama Japan, causing devastating tsunamis.
According to the research team, as quoted by "Le Monde", it is possible that such an earthquake could be registered in Greece, and the areas marked with dark red are extremely dangerous, which include Crete, Rhodes, Samos, Mytilini, Patras, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Epirus, and the Gulf of Corinth. It should be noted that this is the first time when such maps with such detailed descriptions of earthquake foci have been drawn in Europe.
For Imerisia, Greek seismologist Efthimios Lekkas said that he doesn’t trust the article in "Le Monde", but added that in general the possibility of such a major earthquake cannot be completely excluded. "Personally, I do not believe that such an earthquake could happen in Greece. The devastating earthquake in Fukushima was caused by a 300 kilometres crack, while tectonic plates in Greece are much smaller. However, the approach of the quoted scientists is very professional and it is not possible to completely exclude the probability of an earthquake with a magnitude of 9 degrees. Only time will tell," said Efthimios Lekkas.
For the electronic edition zougla.gr, seismologist of the Athens Observatory Gerasimos Houliaras determined the article in "Le Monde" as extreme and pointed out that the most powerful earthquake that has ever happened in Greece was of magnitude 8.2 degrees on the Richter scale. However, he noted that "the results of the study are reliable, since Greece has one of the highest seismic activities in Europe and we are in danger of major destructive earthquakes at any time. We know this and we always emphasize it."
"The article in Le Monde is nothing new, it is an estimate based on historical data and gives us a picture of the seismic activity in the eastern Mediterranean, but we have never had an earthquake with a magnitude of 9 degrees on the Richter scale in Greece," said Akis Tzeletis, professor of seismology at the University of Patras on Star TV. "The problem lies elsewhere - in the last two years, we have frozen all means of seismic protection, and we are committing an offence in terms of the seismic stability of buildings," he said.