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6.0-magnitude earthquake strikes near Melbourne, tremors rattle south-east Australia

6.0-magnitude earthquake strikes near Melbourne, tremors rattle south-east Australia

A police officer closes an intersection where debris is scattered in the road after an earthquake damaged a building in Melbourne, Sep 22, 2021. (Photo: James Ross/AAP Image via AP)

SYDNEY/MELBOURNE: A 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck near Melbourne on Wednesday (Sep 22), Geoscience Australia said, one of the country's biggest quakes on record, causing damage to buildings in the country's second-largest city and sending tremors throughout neighbouring states.

The quake's epicentre was near the rural town of Mansfield in the state of Victoria, about 200km north-east of Melbourne, and was at a depth of 10km. An aftershock was rated 4.0.

Images and video footage circulating on social media showed rubble blocking one of Melbourne's main streets, while people in northern parts of the city said on social media they had lost power and others said they were evacuated from buildings.

Zume Phim, 33, owner of Melbourne's Oppen cafe, said he rushed onto the street when the earthquake hit.

"The whole building was shaking. All the windows, the glass, was shaking - like a wave of shaking," he told AFP.

"I have never experienced that before. It was a little bit scary."

The quake was felt as far away as the city of Adelaide, 800km to the west in the state of South Australia, and Sydney, 900km to the north in New South Wales state, although there were no reports of damage outside Melbourne and no reports of injuries.

More than half Australia's 25 million population lives in the south-east of the country from Adelaide to Melbourne to Sydney.

"We have had no reports of serious injuries, or worse, and that is very good news and we hope that good news will continue," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Washington.

"It can be a very disturbing event, an earthquake of this nature. They are very rare events in Australia and as a result, I am sure people would have been quite distressed and disturbed."


Quakes are relatively unusual in Australia's populated east due to its position in the middle of the Indo-Australian Tectonic Plate, according to Geoscience Australia.

The quake on Wednesday measured higher than the country's deadliest tremor, a 5.6 in Newcastle in 1989, which resulted in 13 deaths.

At a magnitude of around 6.0, this was "the biggest event in south-east Australia for a long time" Mike Sandiford, a geologist at the University of Melbourne told AFP.

"We had some very big ones at magnitude 6.0 in the late 1800s, though precise magnitudes are not well known."

A quake of this size is expected every "10 to 20 years in south-east Australia. The last was Thorpdale in 2012", he said. "This is significantly bigger."

Sandiford said Australians should expect "many hundreds of aftershocks, most below human sensitivity threshold, but probably a dozen or more that will be felt at least nearby".

The quake "would have caused many billions of dollars in damage had it been under Melbourne", he added.

The mayor of Mansfield, Mark Holcombe, said he was in his home office on his farm when the quake struck and ran outside for safety.

"I have been in earthquakes overseas before and it seemed to go on longer than I have experienced before," Holcombe told the ABC. "The other thing that surprised me was how noisy it was. It was a real rumbling like a big truck going past."

He knew of no serious damage near the quake epicentre, although some residents reported problems with telecommunications.

"We don't have earthquakes that I am aware of - none of the locals I spoke to this morning had that experience with earthquakes here before - so it is one right out of left field."

Emergency services said they had received calls for help from as far away as Dubbo, about 700km from the quake epicentre, with fire and rescue crews dispatched to help.

No tsunami threat was issued to the Australian mainland, islands or territories, the country's Bureau of Meteorology said in a statement.

The quake presented a potential disruption for anti-lockdown protests expected in Melbourne on Wednesday, which would be the third day of unrest that has reached increasing levels of violence and police response.

Source: AGENCIES/dv


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