Schools have been ordered closed and a state of emergency has been declared on the Greek island of Kefalonia after an earthquake damaged homes and injured at least seven people.

Hundreds of the island residents slept in their cars after Sunday's magnitude 5.8 temblor struck near the town of Lixouri on the western Greek island, and was followed by aftershocks as powerful as magnitude 5.2, according to the Institute of Geodynamics in Athens.

Local officials said two ferries were on the way to the island to provide accommodation for residents.

Earthquakes are common in Greece. Kefalonia and the nearby island of Zakynthos were devastated by a 7.2-strong earthquake in 1953.