Aussies rattled as 5.8 quake strikes

A strong quake has struck in Victoria - one of Australia's biggest quakes on record - causing damage to buildings and sending tremors throughout neighbouring states.

The 5.8 magnitude quake hit at 9.15am (local time) on Wednesday. Its epicentre was near the rural town of Mansfield in the state of Victoria, about 200km northeast of Melbourne, at a depth of 10km. It was initially reported as a 6.0 tremor. An aftershock was rated 4.0, Geoscience Australia said.

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.

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.

The State Emergency Service was receiving calls for assistance from across Victoria.

Tremors were felt at Canberra's Parliament House and in New South Wales' central coast, nearly 1000km from Melbourne, Australia's second largest city.

Building movement was reported in Sydney's CBD, and people at home in some suburbs reported feeling the quake on social media.

More than half of Australia's 25 million population lives in the southeast 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.

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.

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

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. 

 

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