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New earthquake inflicts fresh damage on Greek island

A strong earthquake hit the Greek island of Cephalonia early Monday, causing further damage to homes and public buildings a week after another major tremor, officials said.

ATHENS: A strong earthquake hit the Greek island of Cephalonia early Monday, causing further damage to homes and public buildings a week after another major tremor, officials said.

"I regret to say that Lixouri has sustained extensive damage," said Citizen's Protection Minister Nikos Dendias, referring to the island town that bore the brunt of the shocks.

"This directly affects the residents' ability to lead a normal life," he told reporters.

The quake hit at 5:08 am (0308 GMT), with its epicentre just 12 kilometres from Lixouri, 300 kilometres west of Athens, the US Geological Survey said.

The USGS measured the quake at 6.1 points, while the Athens observatory put the intensity at 5.7 points.

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck the same region on January 26, followed by scores of smaller aftershocks.

Nine people were lightly injured in the latest earthquake.

"Last Sunday the dishes rattled, tonight it was the furniture," said Adriana Karadinou, a 24-year-old Lixouri resident.

"My bookcase was only held up by the bed," she told AFP.

The quakes have cracked the wharf of Lixouri and surrounding roads and disrupted the electricity supply. The island's schools are temporarily shut.

Preliminary inspections by engineers last week found about 500 houses had been damaged by the January 26 earthquake.

People unable to return to their homes are being sheltered aboard a 1,500-bed ferry boat.

Cephalonia has previously been struck by earthquakes several times. In August 1953 a major earthquake killed 450 people and destroyed virtually every house on the island.

The Ionian island of some 35,000 inhabitants was also the setting for the popular novel "Captain Corelli's Mandolin", about a World War II romance between an Italian soldier and a local woman.

A 2001 movie of the same name, starring Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz, was filmed there.

Greece is one of Europe's most earthquake-prone countries.

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