An earthquake struck northwest Algeria early Thursday, killing at least 147 people and leaving thousands homeless when their mud-brick homes collapsed, local rescue officials said.
At least 289 people were injured by the quake, which hit about 250 miles west of Algiers and caused considerable damage to buildings and property, according to rescue officials quoted on national radio. Rescue work was hampered because roads were blocked by debris, they said.It registered a preliminary magnitude of 5.6, according to the Algerian Center for Astrophysical Research. Several aftershocks followed, the strongest with a preliminary magnitude of 5.1.
Homes built of mud-and-straw brick collapsed in the first quake, and 8,000 to 10,000 people were left without shelter, rescue officials said. They appealed for blood donations and warned that drinking water would soon be in short supply.
A quake of magnitude 5 can cause considerable damage and one of magnitude 6 can cause severe damage.
The British Geological Survey said the quake hit at 2:13 a.m. local time (7:13 p.m. MDT Wednesday) and registered a 5.2 magnitude. Its epicenter was near the city of Sig.
"This is nothing unusual for the area," said geologist John Lovell of the British organization. "The whole of the Mediterranean is susceptible to quite large earthquakes from time to time because of the shifting tectonic plates."
Hardest hit were Bou Hanifia, a hot springs resort, and Bou Henni, the radio said.