Rattled Spaniards Sleep Outside after Deadly Quakes

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Many Spaniards were still feeling rattled Thursday, one day after two earthquakes struck the southeastern part of Spain, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens of others.

The quakes, measured at 4.4 and 5.2 on the Richter magnitude scale, were most destructive seismic event the European country has seen in 55 years.

Fearing aftershocks, thousands of people in the southeastern town Lorca slept outdoors. They'd fled their homes after Wednesday's temblors, which sent debris tumbling from buildings.

Cameras for Spanish state TV captured falling chunks of stone and brick as an old church crumbled in the city. Lorca has a population of 85,000 and is located 207 miles from the capital city of Madrid.

"The whole facade and the stairs of the flat where I live are totally broken," resident Tomas Hinojo told the Associated Press.

"The hardest things happened right where I live," he said. "Three of the victims killed are my neighbors."

A Murcia regional government statement said the quakes seriously damaged many buildings and crushed vehicles. A total of 167 people were treated in hospitals in the city. Three people remain in serious condition.

Although Wednesday's quakes were relatively light, experts said damage was heavy because the quake occurred very close to the surface - approximately a kilometer below the ground - which magnified their energy and destructive power.

"The quakes in this area of the Iberian peninsula tend to be close to the surface. They occur in the first few kilometers of the earth's crust. For that reason, they cause more damage," Maria Jose Jimenez, a seismologist for the Spanish National Research Council told The Associated Press.

"If the movement are 40 kilometers deep, the energy waves that reach the surface are much weaker," she added.

Three quakes of magnitude 5 struck Lorca in 1999, 2002 and 2005 causing damages but no injuries.

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