A rare quake rattled southeastern Australia early Wednesday, shaking buildings, knocking down walls and sending panicked residents running into the streets of Melbourne. The shallow quake hit east of the country’s second-largest city just after 9:00am local time (2300 GMT) and was felt hundreds of kilometres (miles) away.
The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 5.8, later revised up to 5.9, and said it struck at a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles). The quake’s epicentre was near the rural town of Mansfield in the state of Victoria, about 200 km northeast of Melbourne, and was at a depth of 10 km. The earthquake happened about 09:15 local time (23:15 GMT) on Wednesday at Mansfield, not far from the Victorian state capital. The earthquake was also felt in neighbouring South Australia and New South Wales (NSW). It was followed by two aftershocks of 4.0 and 3.1 magnitude. While this is one of Australia’s largest earthquakes in recent years, it does not appear to have caused significant damage. Victoria’s State Emergency Service warned residents to be alert for possible aftershocks. People in northern parts of the city said on social media they had lost power, while others said they were evacuated from buildings. No tsunami threat has been 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.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “we have had no reports of serious injuries and that is very good news”. Speaking from the US, Mr Morrison noted earthquakes were uncommon in Australia and “it can be very, very disturbing event”.