Earthquake in Sofia. Shaken in the night

May 22, 2012 5 Comments by
Earthquake proof?

Ovcha Kupal, Sofia. New or old for earthquake protection?

I woke up, then I screamed. Dazed, I wondered what was happening. The bed, the wardrobe doors, and the half opened door, are shaking and rattling loudly. The ceiling was moving in a blur above me. The lamp swinging vigorously. And this deep roar…   …


“It’s an earthquake (wikipedia link)” said my girlfriend. 03:00 in the night. 5.6 on the richter scale although some reports are saying 5.9. The epicentre just up the road near Pernik.   It seemed like a long sixteen seconds. Will the building will hold up, or crumble? Images of TV reporters standing besides heaps of rubble are flashing through my head.   I’m here in Sofia, Bulgaria.


Shock recovery


Close to the top of a building, to the south west of the capital city of Bulgaria. Picking up a few small items that fell off the shelves.   The electric juicer fell off — broken. But all is fine with the buildings around me. They’ve all been built to withstand earthquakes — including the often less than inspiring communist era panel blocks. Some older buildings in central Sofia have some fascia that has come loose.


I’m thinking maybe better these fall now, than another time in the day. No casualties reported on the online new channels. But then I don’t watch TV.   But it was the shock that was disturbing.   It must have been especially terrifying to those alone, and the elderly, as they woke up suddenly.   Reports, so far as I can see, are that the earthquake here has not seen any casualties. The adrenalin pumping and, as expected, the aftershock came. A 4.7 tremor, plenty of other smaller ones. It shook us up some more. More small shakes have followed. I saw many follow the correct procedure and left their buildings. We stayed put at the the top of a newish building to the west of the city.   It’s light now, drama over and heading out.   the drama is not over…




A huge storm came at lunch time today. Sofia taking a bashing from mother nature.   Torrential rain, high winds, hail, thunder and lightening. What a coincidence with the earthquake. Some are wondering they have done to deserve such a succession of events. However reports say Bulgaria has been lucky! Although this is the worst earthquake for 154 years — 1858 being the last biggie – the fault moved only 20 cm to 30 cm. This does not mean that other faults nearby cant start moving. So more tremors are still possible.   Bulgaria is well known for four seasons.


With winter skiing, mountains and a coastline there is a lot to be said for the nature here. But this year we are seeing the weather being played out in dramatic fashion.  One of the coldest, and best winter sports snow conditions for some time was enjoyed by many in Bansko.  Since this superb winter ski season it has been noticeable how the demand for luxury ski chalet accommodation as already strongly for the coming 2012/13 season. Like everyone I’m busy preparing for the summer season as well as improving the range of services for the next winter season. It has been one of the wettest Springs. Will it be one of the hottest summers? We’ll see.


The earthquake in Bulgaria:


tremor details  USGS web site:



Location 42.686°N, 23.009°E
Depth 9.4 km (5.8 miles)
Distances 24 km (14 miles) W of SOFIA, Bulgaria 73 km (45 miles) N of Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria 115 km (71 miles) SE of Nis, Serbia 141 km (87 miles) NNE of Strumica, Macedonia
Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 10.7 km (6.6 miles); depth +/- 3.6 km (2.2 miles)
Parameters NST=538, Nph=538, Dmin=20 km, Rmss=0.89 sec, Gp= 25°, M-type=teleseismic moment magnitude (Mw), Version=A
  • Magnitude: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D) Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Event ID usb0009uyx



With today’s tremor so close to Bansko, it serves as a reminder for property owners, and managers of buildings to take out insurance cover that includes earthquake damage and flood damage. Be sure to read the small print as to the precautions that need to be made for long unoccupied periods


Spring news



MTB Rhodopi ride end, Mostovo

The rain cleared a little on Saturday and I headed out with MTB guide Ivan, former professional guide Davide (Italian), Sure (from Spain) and pro rider Kalin and his friend Ivan.   I love all mountains and the Rhodopi’s mountains come with deep gorges and dramatic ridges and people largely untouched by tourism.


With snow still on the Pirin range, the nearby Rhodopi offer up yet another inspiring mountain biking playground.   More than ever, I can see how Bulgaria offers up a unique experience.   Remote monasteries, real wilderness, green open vistas, clean air, wild fruits including the wonderful cherries in season right now.


And MTB terrains to satisfy all levels of rider. For the full program for summer Bansko activities from hiking, ATV, horse riding, mountain biking, off road motor biking and tours to areas of interest please subscribe for prices and info. They will be released any day.   Finally stay tuned for article and some GoPro footage that, in a nice way, outshakes today’s earthquake tremors.


Have you been in today’s earthquake or storm in Bulgaria or elsewhere?  please let us know below on your experiences.


About the author

I enjoy tech, apps, entrepreneurship, podcasting and collaboration with others. I love travelling as well as skiing, hiking, MTB, paragliding, cooking and good food.

5 Responses to “Earthquake in Sofia. Shaken in the night”

  1. Sam says:

    Great report! I was also on a high floor and it was the exact same experience for me.
    Lets hope no more big earthquakes in Sofia!

    • LanceNelson says:

      Thank you Sam. I am sure folks thought I was exaggerating.

      I too hope Sofia / Bulgaria does not have a big one. But one day we will. I suspect Bulgaria is woefully ill prepared if there was a 7+ earthqauke. The new building \”passport\” initiative launched by the government is interesting and seems correct. Hope it is acted upon. However whilst buildings have been designed for earthquakes who knows if the plans have been acted upon properly. Like correct cement mix, steel mic and subsequent removal of columns on ground floors…

      What I did not realise, until a few days ago, is that one of the biggest threats in the whole of Bulgaria is just 15km from Bansko! Blagoevgrad high risk area too.

      Interesting that the intensity of earthquake is reported by different prganisations at anything from 5.6 (the official US) to 6.2 (Turkish reports).

  2. Davide Tani says:

    Stunning Bulgaria!!! First time there one of the best MTB tracks that I ever rode. Surely a destination to suggest to who want to ride in single-tracks and eat fresh genuine food.
    Already thinking when I can come back…..

    • LanceNelson says:

      Hi Davide, Thank you for commenting and great to hear. Bulgaria has some stunning MTB rides in all its mountainous areas. Real wilderness feelings. I hope you come back to enjoy the nature, activities and perhaps some skiing in winter. Oh and I don;t suppose you spent as much as you would have in other places?

  3. Sally says:

    Hi Lance my husband and I did a lot of MTb around bansko these last couple of weeks and what a fabulous experience my only concern was when we were out early one morning and a wild dog on main ski road as we were descending. Thanks

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