A 5.9-magnitude earthquake hit southeastern Australia, the epicenter 100 kilometers from Melbourne. Citizens in a panic, in an area unaccustomed to earthquakes, flocked to the street. Buildings were damaged, and in central Melbourne, many buildings were evacuated.
The earthquake, which struck only ten kilometers in depth, surprised residents of Australia’s second largest city at 9:00 (23:00 GMT) and was felt hundreds of kilometers away. Rescuers received calls for help as far as Dubbo, about 700 kilometers from the epicenter. The earthquake was felt in Melbourne, but also in Sydney, in the New South Wales region. There have been reports of damage to buildings in parts of Victoria.
The United States Institute of Geological Studies (USGS) estimated the volume at 5.8, before refining it at 5.9. Social networks were flooded with scenes of terrified residents leaving their homes.
Among them is Zumi Vim, 33, the owner of Melbourne’s Open Café, who rushed into the streets when the earthquake struck. “The whole building was shaking. All the windows and panels were shaking like a wave of tremors,” he told AFP. “I’ve never experienced that before, it was scary,” he says.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, responding from New York, insisted there were no casualties or significant damage. However, he admitted the “extremely disturbing” aspect of the quake to residents in a region as unaccustomed to tremors as Australia.
“Everything started shivering…Everyone was in shock,” Parker Mayo, a 30-year-old bar worker, told AFP, as pictures of the Chapel Street shopping district showed bricks falling to the ground.
A magnitude 4 aftershock occurred shortly after the first earthquake. Large earthquakes are unusual in southeastern Australia, which is a fairly densely populated area. “I was sitting in my office…it took a while to figure out what it was,” Mansfield Mayor near the epicenter, Mark Holcomb, told ABC. It was the largest earthquake in southeastern Australia in years, University of Melbourne geologist Mike Sandiford told AFP.
Large earthquakes are unusual in southeastern Australia, which is a fairly densely populated area. “I was sitting in my office…it took a while to figure out what it was,” Mansfield Mayor near the epicenter, Mark Holcomb, told ABC. It was the largest earthquake in southeastern Australia in years, University of Melbourne geologist Mike Sandiford told AFP. He said an earthquake of this magnitude occurs every “10 to 20 years in southeastern Australia, the most recent being the Thorbdale earthquake in 2012”. “In the late nineteenth century, we had a severe shock of about six degrees,” he said. The scientist warned that Australians should expect “several hundreds of aftershocks, most of them imperceptible to humans, but potentially dozens of them feeling,” speculating on “billions of dollars in damage” the earthquake could cause. If it had happened in Melbourne. .
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