Earthquake Rattles Caucasus, One Dead

MOSCOW (AFP) — A strong earthquake reverberated through the Caucasus mountains region on Saturday, leaving one person dead and disrupting communications in the Russian province of Chechnya, officials and media said.

The quake measuring 5.5 on the 12-point Russian seismic scale was felt in five regions of the Russian north Caucasus as well as in neighbouring Georgia and Armenia but there were no reports of major damage, officials said.

One man died when a wall fell on him in the Chechen city of Gudermes and residents who live in high apartment buildings left their homes briefly due to fear of aftershocks, RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Interfax news agency, quoting a local emergency services official, said the victim was a serviceman who was on guard duty at a military facility when the tremor hit.

In addition to Chechnya, the earthquake was felt in the Russian provinces of Dagestan, North Ossetia, Ingushetia and in the Stavropol region, and was also registered in Georgia and Armenia.

"The underground shock was quite strong, and people felt it in the streets of Vladikavkaz," a witness in the North Ossetian city was quoted by Interfax as saying.

In Tbilisi, Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said the earthquake was recorded near the Georgian border but said there had been no damage or injuries there.

In Yerevan, a spokesman for Armenia’s seismology centre said two small quakes were registered in the north of the country, but no damages or injuries reported.

RIA Novosti said mobile telephone communications in Chechnya were disrupted after the earthquake, but said it was unclear if this were the result of damage to any communications structure or saturation of the province’s network.

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