A rare earthquake in Australia has sparked panic in Melbourne.
Early Wednesday, an unusual earthquake jolted southeastern Australia, shaking houses, tumbling down walls, and sending scared inhabitants fleeing into Melbourne’s streets.
The shallow quake struck just after 9:00 a.m. local time (2300 GMT) east of the country’s second-largest city, and was felt hundreds of kilometers (miles) distant.
The US Geological Survey estimated the earthquake’s magnitude to be 5.8, later corrected to 5.9, and reported it occurred at a depth of 10 kilometers (six miles).
Roads in Melbourne’s renowned shopping district surrounding Chapel Street were covered with debris, with bricks purportedly falling loose from houses.
When the earthquake struck, Zume Phim, 33, proprietor of Melbourne’s Oppen cafe, said he rushed out onto the street.
“The entire structure was trembling. He told AFP that “all the windows, all the glass, was trembling – like a tsunami of shaking.”
“I’ve never had anything like that before. It was a little frightening.”
In Australia’s populated southeast, large earthquakes are uncommon.
Parker Mayo, 30, a Melbourne café worker, told AFP, “It was quite violent but everyone was kind of in shock.”
Outside Betty’s Burgers in Melbourne, bricks and rubble strewn on the ground, with enormous sheets of metal dangling from the restaurant awning.
Everyone was safe, according to the restaurant’s Facebook post: “We were fortunate that no one was in the restaurant at the time.”
Mike Sandiford, a geologist at the University of Melbourne, told AFP that the earthquake was “the greatest event in south east Australia for a long time” with a magnitude of slightly under six.
“In the late 1800s, we had several extremely big ones at magnitude six, though the exact magnitudes are unknown.”
A quake of this magnitude is predicted every “10-20 years in south east Australia,” he said, citing the 2012 Thorpdale quake as an example. “This is a significant increase.”
“Many hundreds of aftershocks, most below human sensitivity threshold, but certainly a dozen or more that will be felt at least nearby,” Sandiford added.
He noted that if the quake had occurred beneath Melbourne, it would have caused “many billions of dollars in damage.”
An aftershock measuring 4.0 struck immediately after the main temblor, according to Geosciences Australia.
The mayor of Mansfield, which is near the epicenter of the quake, claimed there was no damage in the little town, but that it had caught residents off guard.
“I was sitting at my desk at work when I realized I needed to go outside. It took me a long time to figure out what it was,” Mark Holcombe told ABC.
“As far as I’m aware, we don’t experience earthquakes –. Brief News from Washington Newsday.