Earthquakes in Bulgaria: A look back in time

Written by on October 30, 2016 in Bulgaria - No comments

In Pernik and Sofia, the last relatively strong earthquake on May 22nd, 2012 is remembered all too well. It happened very early in the morning. Even in Sofia, which was much further away from the epicenter than Pernik, people were literally thrown out of bed. A colleague, who lives on the 8th floor in a Mladost apartment block said “I never want to experience that kind of quake ever again.”

That earthquake caused a lot of damage in Pernik, and to a lesser degree in Sofia. It had a strength of 5.6 on the Richter scale. One person was killed.

But there have been earthquakes, which were a lot stronger. On October 14th, 1802, well over 200 years ago, an extremely strong one hit Bulgaria, at 7.9 on the Richter scale. It is not known how many people were killed or injured back then. But there must have been lots of victims. Ruse, Varna and Vidin suffered a lot of damage.

During the 19th century, there were three more major earthquakes. But also the next century started with one: On March 31st, 1901, that quake hit the area of Kaliakra, where 4 people were killed, but countless houses were flattened. Just three years later, more than 200 people died as a result of two quakes, at 7.1. and 7.2 on the Richter scale.

Until 1977, there were six more earthquakes, at 7.0 or stronger, in which more than 300 people lost their lives. Since then, the tremors registered in Bulgaria have not been that strong. But that could change at any moment. On May 24th, 2014, there was a rather strong one 6.9 quake in the Aegean Sea, which caused some damage in Bulgaria as well.

In all countries located in earthquake regions, authorities usually tell people to do the following, when an earthquake hits:

– If outdoors, get away from buildings as quickly as possible, especially from highrises.

– If inside the building, stand under a door frame or crawl under a table immediately. There is usually not enough time to get out, meaning trying to get out of a large building is far more dangerous than taking shelter under furniture, which has proven to give people extra protection.

In certain earthquake countries, high rises are built on huge water pools, which can decrease damage during large quakes, since those buildings have more room to move. The water absorbs part of the shock.

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