The region around La Rochelle was hit by an earthquake and a nighttime aftershock, causing a big scare on the French Atlantic coast. The fire department is now inspecting the damages.
A resident from Niort tweeted that she had "the fear of her life." Everything was shaking, and the walls seemed to be closing in on her. The witness reported that it looked like the front door was going to explode. This happened on Friday at 6:38 pm.
At that time, the French authorities registered an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.3 to 5.8 in the two departments of Deux-Sèvres and Charente-Maritime. There was an aftershock at 4:30 am the next morning.
The region on the Atlantic coast includes the popular holiday islands of Ile de Ré and Ile d’Oléron, where an earthquake occurred half a century ago, as well as La Rochelle with its beautiful old town. The mayor, Jean-François Fountaine, remained calm despite receiving concerned calls from his citizens at the town hall.
Mayor Fountaine explained that there was no need to panic since the region lies in a seismic zone, and it is at level 3 out of 5. Although earthquakes hit the Pyrenees and mountainous regions in southeastern France more frequently, the mayor thought there was still construction work being done somewhere.
Inspection of Damages
The fire department is inspecting the damages caused by the earthquake. Pictures show fallen tiles, damaged chimneys, cracks in the walls, loose tiles on terraces, and walls where the plaster has crumbled.
Seismologist Jérôme Van der Woerd estimated that the most recent earthquake will be "significant" for France and compared it to the earthquake that occurred in the Ardèche in 2019. He stated that compared to devastating earthquakes worldwide, it was relatively weak.