The tremor struck at 6:47 pm (16:47 GMT) at a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles) and was felt in as far as the capital city of Madrid. The larger quake was preceded by a lesser-intensity 4.4-magnitude quake two hours prior.
Television reports in local channels showed dramatic images of widespread destruction with a clock tower crashing down, and parts of buildings crashing down in the southeastern town of Lorca.
Emergency military units were rushed to the affected areas by the Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. According to reports, the king and prime minister spoke to the president of the Murcia region and Zapatero to gauge the extent of damages. A statement from the Prime Minister"s office revealed that though the quake was felt more in the towns of Lorca and Totana, its impact has spread to areas of Albacete and Velez-Rubio in Almeria.
This is the most deadly quake to have rocked Spain since April 19, 1956 that led to the death of 11 people in the town of Albolote, in the southern Spanish province of Granada.