SOFIA- Agence France-Presse
A 5.8-magnitude quake struck Bulgaria early Tuesday, triggering panic among local residents who ran into the streets in their pyjamas, and some minor damage, but no casualties were reported.
The quake jolted the town of Pernik, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) southwest of the capital Sofia, causing some tall buildings to sway, and was followed by about 15 lighter aftershocks, local seismologists said.
Residents of tall apartment buildings in the capital said objects crashed to the ground during the tremor which lasted several minutes, and there were reports of chimneys being toppled and windows smashed.
"Everything was shaking like crazy. I ran out shouting... I won't go back home today," teenager Maria told AFP outside her apartment building in a western Sofia neighbourhood.
A crisis unit has been set up in Pernik, the epicentre of the shallow tremor, and police and firefighters were dispatched to the region, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov told Focus press agency.
"So far, there are no (known) casualties or injuries, which is good news," Tsvetanov said.
The quake comes on the heels of a 6.0-magnitude earthquake in northeastern Italy on Sunday that killed six people and reduced homes and historic buildings to rubble.
In Bulgaria, the national radio stations and news agencies broadcast advice for people to stay outdoors after being inundated with calls.
"Let's hope it does not strike again. I know that people are in panic and this is only normal," Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov told Blitz news agency.
Pernik mayor Rositsa Yanakieva sought to assure residents that there was no danger that a major dam near the town could burst.
"The wall of the Studena dam is in good condition. It is being monitored constantly... There are no reports of casualties or injuries in Pernik so far," he added said.
Over 15 lighter aftershocks were registered after the first horizontal quake hit, which had a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter scale, data by the Bulgarian Seizmological Institute showed.
Local people who were still sitting outside in their pyjamas over an hour after the first jolt said they felt new tremors before dawn which the seismological institute measured at 4.2 and 4.3 on the Richter scale.
Civil defence chief Nikolay Nikolov said his service received many reports of toppled chimneys, cracked walls and broken windows in the Pernik region.
There were no reports of interruptions of electricity or communications.
In August 2009, a 5.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Black Sea
between Bulgaria and Romania to the southeast of the Kaliakra Cape, the Bulgarian seismological institute said at the time. No serious damage was reported.