Evacuation of a village near the west coast of France after earthquakes

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck around 6:30 p.m. Friday, forcing the 500 or so residents of La Ligny to evacuate as cracks appeared in many homes.

Cracked houses, an unusable church and people who need to be rehoused: damage was assessed on Saturday in eastern Charente-Maritime in western France, epicenter of a “very strong” earthquake that was felt on Friday from Rennes to Bordeaux.

After the first tremor at 6:30 pm on Friday, which according to the French Central Seismological Office recorded 5.8 on the Richter scale, a second tremor of magnitude 4.5 hit at around 4.30 am on Saturday.

A third 5.1-magnitude quake arrived several hours later, adding to the fears of local residents, some of whom are unable to return to their seriously weakened homes.

Dozens of homes in the market town of La Laigne in Charente-Maritime have been declared “uninhabitable” by the fire brigade.

Tony, a 46-year-old site manager, is moving in with friends:

“We will get some things and then we will try to get out of here,” he told AFP. “We don’t have anything (no injuries) and that’s the main thing. But we lost everything in 10 seconds.

“It’s a pity for us and the whole village. You only have to look at the church, it speaks for itself,” he said, referring to the badly damaged bell tower.

According to Fire Chief Didier Marcaillou, 135 buildings in La Ligny were directly affected, with 170 people needing to be rehoused.

“Most of the houses in the center of the village have been affected to varying degrees,” said Nicolas Basilaire, governor of Charente-Maritime. “The church is completely unusable. The school should be closed as a precautionary measure.”

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