Quake, slides leave mountain villages isolated

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Shaken civilians and soldiers worked Sunday to clear away tons of mud and rocks that cut off villages and polluted drinking water after the latest in a series of earthquakes in southern Yugoslavia, the state news agency reported.

Saturday's earthquake was the fourth in eight days to hit the seismically unstable Kopaonik mountains, some 100 miles south of Belgrade, the Yugoslav state news agency Tanjug said.


Special army tanker trucks carried drinking water to villages where springs had been filled in by mudslides, although many of the hamlets dotting the 6,000-foot peaks were cut off by the giant landslides and could not be reached, Tanjug said.

Experts said it would take several days to repair electricity and telephone lines destroyed in the quake, leaving many inhabitants completely isolated.

Tanjug said many residents of the quake-prone mountains required medical attention for complaints including heart troubles and 'psychic stress,' a chronic problem in the area.

'They cannot get used to living with this dangerous underground neighbor,' Tanjug said.

Saturday's quake, which measured 4.7 on the Richter scale, came exactly five years after the first major quake in the area on May 18, 1980. Around 8,000 tremors have shaken the region since then.


More than 50 people were injured in the 1980 quake and thousands were left homeless. Tanjug mentioned no injuries following Saturday's tremor.

'This continued seismic activity has destroyed or badly shattered the poorly built homes of tens of thousands of people,' the agency said. 'At present, however, even new houses built of solid material are dangerous to live in.'

On June 26, 1963, one of the world's worst earthquake disasters struck the Macedonian capital of Skopjie, 80 miles south of Kopaonik, destroying most of the city.

About 1,500 people died and 30,000 were left homeless in that disaster.

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