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Double earthquakes kill 10 in Spain

Two earthquakes struck south-east Spain in quick succession, killing at least 10 people − the country’s highest quake-related death toll in more than 50 years − injuring dozens and causing major damage.

The epicentre of the quakes − with magnitudes of 4.4 and 5.2 − was close to the town of Lorca and the second came about two hours after the first, the Murcia regional government said.

Dozens of injured people were being treated at the scene and a field hospital was set up in the town of about 85,000 people.

About 270 patients at a hospital in Lorca were being evacuated by ambulance as a precaution after the building sustained minor damage, the Murcia government said.

The prime minister’s office put the death toll at 10 and the Murcia administration said the deaths included a child and occurred with the second, stronger quake.

Large chunks of stone and brick fell from the facade of a church in Lorca as a reporter for Spanish state TV was broadcasting live from the scene.

A large church bell was also among the rubble, which missed striking the reporter, who appeared to be about 9m away when it fell.

The broadcaster reported that schoolchildren usually gathered at that spot around that time and if it had happened 10 minutes later, a “tragedy” could have occurred.

Spanish TV showed images of cars that were partially crushed by falling rubble, and large cracks in buildings.

Many residents decided to spend the night camped out in parks and other open spaces, fearing aftershocks and because of structural damage to their homes, according to state TV footage.

It was the deadliest quake in Spain since 1956 when 12 people died and 70 were injured in a quake in the southern Granada region, according to the National Geographic Institute.

It says Spain has about 2,500 quakes a year, but only a handful are actually noticed by people. Spain’s south and south east are the most earthquake-prone regions.

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