MOSCOW (AFP) — A strong earthquake reverberated through the Caucasus mountains on Saturday, killing at least five people and disrupting power supplies in Russia's Chechnya region, reports said.
The quake, measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale according to Strasbourg observatory estimates, was felt in five regions of the Russian north Caucasus and neighbouring Georgia and Armenia.
The dead were found in Chechnya's east, four of them killed in the Kurchaloy district and the other in Gudermes, said Itar-Tass news agency, citing Chechen vice emergency situations minister, Akhmed Dzheirkhanov.
One was a soldier who died when a wall collapsed, while at least 24 people were injured, said Russian news agencies, which added there were no reports of major damage.
Some 52,000 people from three Chechen districts were left without electricity, according to the Russian emergency situations ministry, cited by Interfax.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said he had ordered the creation of a special commission to assess the needs of people following the earthquake.
"We have received information on damage from various districts... each and every (victim) will receive the necessary help and support," said Kadyrov, quoted by Interfax.
The American Geological Institute, which put the strength of the quake at 5.3 on the Richter scale, said its epicentre was 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of the Chechen capital Grozny, and 10 kilometres underground.
In the Chechen city of Gudermes, residents who live in high apartment buildings left their homes briefly due to fear of aftershocks, RIA Novosti news agency reported.
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.
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