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Kefalonia History

THE EARTHQUAKES OF 1953

The destructive earthquakes that hit the Ionian islands in 1953, lasted for almost two months; August and September (the smaller earthquakes lasted for at least six months). As a result of this, Kefalonia, Zante and Ithaca were completely destroyed. The destruction in Zante was also completed by a firebreak.

At that period, the Greek State was coming out of a difficult period (war- occupation- civil war) and was about to make its first attempts for restoration. The first earthquake had Ithaca as epicentre on August 9th while the following earthquakes that lasted for three days, seismically activated the entire western side of Greece. It is that moment when the massive earthquake of Kefalonia took place  (above 7 Richter degrees) on August 12th. Those earthquakes were the most destructive ever in Greece with more than 470 dead people and missing ones as well as 2500 injured. This two-month seismic coherence was completed by two earthquakes in Lixouri in October and Ithaca in November but there was nothing left to be destroyed since everything had already collapsed from the previous ones.

The less damaged part of Kefalonia was the Northern one. In the area of Erissos and Fiscardo many of the old traditional houses resisted the destructive rage of more than 3000 earthquakes and the oncoming ones that took place after the Spring of the next year. Those are some of the very few still preserved traditional buildings on the island.

The international aid that reached the island is very important either that of the first months to provide the locals with first aid, or that towards the locals’ efforts to get their lives settled again for the next years. The absence of the Greek State who was unable to create the appropriate conditions to make the locals stay in their birthplaces was typical for that time. Thus, Kefalonia because of the intense migration that came up after the earthquakes was significantly deprived of the most important and maybe most creative part of its population.

ΚEFALONIA HISTORY – THE EARTHQUAKES OF 1953