It is a region not used to earthquakes. A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck south-eastern Australia on Wednesday, shaking Melbourne buildings and panicking residents running out.
The earthquake, which struck only ten kilometers deep, surprised residents of Australia’s second largest city at 9 a.m. (11 p.m. GMT) and was felt for hundreds of miles around . Rescue services received calls for help as far as Dubbo, about 700 kilometers from the epicenter. The United States Institute of Geological Studies (USGS) put the magnitude at 5.8, before revising it to 5.9.
Scenes of panicked residents leaving homes have taken over social media. Among them, Zume Phim, 33, owner of Melbourne’s Oppen Cafe, rushed into the streets when the earthquake struck. “The whole building was shaking. All the windows, the glass were shaking, like a wave of tremors, ”he told AFP. “I had never experienced this. It was a little scary, ”he says.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, responding from New York, insisted there were no casualties or significant damage. He nevertheless conceded the “very disturbing” side of the earthquake for the population, in an area not used to tremors like Australia.
“Everything started to shake … Everyone was a little in shock,” Parker Mayo, a 30-year-old cafe worker, told AFP, while images of the Chapel Street shopping area show fallen bricks on the ground. A magnitude 4 aftershock occurred shortly after the first tremor. Large earthquakes are unusual in south-eastern Australia, a fairly densely populated region.
“I was sitting at work at my desk… It took me a while to figure out what it was,” the mayor of Mansfield, near the epicenter of the earthquake, Mark Holcombe told ABC. .
It is the biggest earthquake in south-eastern Australia in years, University of Melbourne geologist Mike Sandiford told AFP. An earthquake of this magnitude occurs every “10 to 20 years in south-eastern Australia, the last was Thorpdale in 2012,” he said. “We had very large magnitude six in the late 1800s, although the precise magnitudes are not well known,” he said.
Australians should expect “several hundred aftershocks, most not perceptible to humans, but probably a dozen will be felt,” the scientist warned, speculating on the “billions of dollars in damage” that would have occurred. caused the earthquake “if it had occurred in Melbourne”.