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Last Updated: Monday, 30 April 2007, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK
Earthquake damage closes school
A firefighter inspecting a damaged chimney
Over 1,000 calls about damaged properties have been received
Nearly 1,000 pupils in Kent have had the day off after Saturday's earthquake left school buildings cracked and ceilings in need of inspection.

The Harvey Grammar School, in Cheriton Road, Folkestone, had to be closed to allow a safety assessment to be carried out, but will reopen on Tuesday.

Shepway District Council said it had received more than 1,000 reports of damage to properties in the town.

Most have minor damage, but 40 are too dangerous for families to return to.

Five of the families are being put up in hotels, with the rest staying with friends and family.

The 4.3 magnitude earthquake struck at 0819 BST on Saturday, with the epicentre 7.5 miles (12km) into the English Channel off the coast of Dover.

An elderly lady is helped by police officers

The damage to the Harvey Grammar School was discovered during an inspection on Sunday.

Head teacher Keith Rivers said: "Some brickwork is displaced and there are some cracks in the gabling that are quite large and are going to need repairing.

"Three classrooms have some damage, and the ceiling is slightly lower than it should be in one room."

Many of the unsafe properties in the town have loose chimney stacks, tiles and masonry.

Shepway District Council said it had received 1,100 calls to a structural damage helpline by Monday afternoon.

SHEPWAY COUNCIL ADVICE LINE
01303 853566/7

Council chief executive Alistair Stewart has estimated the clean-up operation could take "quite a few weeks".

Building control officers have worked with fire and police crews to try to make buildings and roads as safe as possible.

Surveyors are being drafted in from as far afield as Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex and Wiltshire to help Shepway council.

Mr Stewart said Folkestone's Civic Centre in Castle Hill Avenue would be opened up as a help and advice centre for people affected by the earthquake.

Kent County Council said trading standards officers would be out in Folkestone this week amid reports rogue builders have been trying to cash in.

Michael Howard, Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe, said of the emergency services: "I think they performed very well and I want to pay tribute to them for that."


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Residents are unable to return to their quake-hit homes



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