updated 7/15/2008 3:19:06 AM ET 2008-07-15T07:19:06

A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.3 struck the Greek island of Rhodes early Tuesday, and one woman died after she slipped and fell while trying to flee her home, local authorities said. No major damage was reported to any of the island's buildings or historical sites.

The Athens Geodynamic Institute said the quake struck at 6:26 a.m. (0326 GMT) with its epicenter located 275 miles southeast of Athens, beneath the seabed south of Rhodes, and was also felt on the islands of Santorini and Crete.

The quake sent residents and tourists fleeing their homes and hotels on Rhodes. Dodecanese prefect Yiannis Mahairides said on Antenna radio that one woman died of head injuries after she tripped and fell on a staircase in her home in a village on the island.

Major aftershocks not expected
Local authorities appealed for calm, and seismologists said that while Rhodes lies in a seismically active area, major aftershocks were not expected. The quake occurred at a depth of about about 45 miles.

"Such earthquakes are usually characterized by a very small post-seismic activity," said seismologist Giorgos Stavrakakis.

"We must all contribute to maintaining calm in the area," he added, noting that the quake struck at the height of the tourist season, and that many visitors to the island might not be accustomed to earthquakes.

No damage was reported at any archaeological sites or at the medieval castle in the main town of Rhodes.

The U.S. Geological Survey gave the magnitude as 6.4. Magnitudes often differ in the first hours and days after an earthquake.

Greece is one of the most seismically active countries in the world, but most of the quakes do not cause damage or injuries.

On June 8, a 6.5 quake struck near the western port city of Patras, about 120 miles west of Athens, killing two people, injuring more than 200 and damaging hundreds of buildings. In 1999, a magnitude 5.9 quake near Athens killed 143 people.

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