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Earthquake shatters Caucasus

The epicenter of a powerful earthquake that rocked the Caucasus at 2:41am local time Tuesday was in the mountainous Oni region, 156 kilometers from the Georgian capital Tbilisi. It measured over 6 on the Richter Scale.

There are no casualties reported so far, although according to Georgian authorities the earth tremors have damaged at least 200 buildings and some roads have been blocked by rock falls. In Tbilisi itself, the magnitude of the earthquake was five points on the 12-point scale, forcing people living in the upper floors of multi-storey buildings to run out to the streets in fear of the collapse of their dwellings. Fortunately, none occurred.

The jolts were felt across the country as well as in South Ossetia and Southern Russia.

In the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinval the magnitude reached 5.5 points on the Richter Scale. There are no victims, though some domestic buildings received insignificant damage.

The residents of the Russian Southern Federal District felt the underground tremors, but neither destruction nor damage occurred. Still, the Russian Emergency Ministry remains on alert.

The last major earthquake in Georgia, measuring 6 in magnitude, struck Tbilisi in April 2002, killing six people and causing significant damage to the capital's Old Town.

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