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A POWERFUL earthquake sparked a tsunami alert in Crete with tourists urged to "stay away from the shore" just weeks after a tremor left hundreds homeless.

Witnesses reported feeling a "massive tremor" as a 6.4 magnitude quake rocked the Greek holiday island on Tuesday - causing a church to collapse.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre recorded the epicentre of the earthquake as 31 miles south-east of the port of Sitia as panicked locals took to the streets.

A resident of the town Analipsi reported to the EMSC: "Massive tremor. The whole house shook side to side by at least 15 centimetres. It lasted about 20 seconds.'"

According to the agency, the quake was at a depth of 6.2 miles.

Prominent seismologist Gerasimos Papadopoulos said the island had also been struck by a tsunami following the huge quake.

Appealing for people to evacuate its coastal areas, he said: "A small tsunami is underway in southern Crete. Withdraw from the shores."

The strong quake reportedly caused a church in Agios Nikolaos, near Sitia, to crumble, reports Protothema, while another image showed smashed items strewn across a supermarket floor following the tremor.

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