It may have startled a number of sleeping inhabitants, but the 3.4 magnitude (Richter Scale) earthquake registered 4 km northwest of Monchique on Tuesday morning is not recorded to have caused any damage or injuries. Firemen were quick to assure callers that all was well but newspapers have since reported that many thought it was “the worst earthquake” they had felt in their lifetime.
“I was frightened,” 35-year-old Ana Lopes told reporters. “I woke up with the bed shaking. I have never felt anything like it.”
Days before a similar strength quake had been felt in Cascais, where again many householders spoke of their terror as houses, doors and window frames shuddered.
The truth however is that both these quakes were minor. A much larger quake (5.6 magnitude) sent many residents running into the streets in their pyjamas after it hit during the night off the coast of Lagos six years ago.
Intriguingly, a consultation of the institute for sea and atmosphere’s webpage that deals with seismic activity in Portugal will show that all recent quakes have taken place along similar latitudes (see: http://www.ipma.pt/pt/geofisica/sismologia/). In fact, the Cascais quake is on exactly the same latitude as two recent quakes in the Azores – both however measuring less on the Richter scale (2.4 and 2.5 respectively).