Authorities said that a 79-year-old woman who died of a heart attack in Bonn was apparently the only fatal victim of a rare and powerful earthquake that rousted people from their beds across northern Europe in the hours before dawn Monday.
More than 46 people in Germany and the Netherlands were reported injured in the quake, which, among other damage, knocked a stone cross from the top of Cologne’s landmark Gothic cathedral.
Readings of the quake’s magnitude varied from 5.4 at the U.S. Seismological Center in Boulder, Colo., to 6.3 at Germany’s Seismological Central Observatory in Erlangen. Mike Weber, a scientist at the German institute, said the temblor’s official magnitude will probably be set at 5.8, making it the strongest quake in the region in more than 200 years.
The epicenter of the quake was near the Dutch town of Roermond, north of this city of 36,000 people and close to the borders of the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, according to Hein Haak of the Royal Dutch Weather Institute.
A nuclear power reactor in Germany’s Hesse state was shut down as a precautionary measure, officials said. No damage was reported at the Biblis nuclear power complex near Worms.
Police in Germany said 31 people were injured, while 15 were reported hurt in the Netherlands, most of them after running into the street and being hit by falling bricks and roof tiles.
In Herkenbosch, a village just outside Roermond that appeared to be the hardest hit in the Netherlands, police spokesman Harry Clabbers said a medieval church was on the verge of collapse.
Heinsberg appeared to have the most quake-related injuries--25, three of whom were hospitalized, police spokesman Juergen Tomalla said. About 150 buildings and 120 cars were damaged in the city, he said.
Ludwig Ahrhorner of the Seismographic Institute of the University of Cologne said it appeared the quake was the strongest in northern Europe since 1756.