A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck south-eastern Australia on Wednesday, shaking buildings in Melbourne and running out of panicked residents in an area unaccustomed to earthquakes.
The earthquake, which struck only ten kilometers deep, surprised residents of Australia’s second largest city at 9 a.m. and was felt for hundreds of kilometers around.
Rescue services have received calls for help as far as Dubbo, about 700 kilometers from the epicenter.
The United States Institute for Geological Studies (USGS) put the magnitude at 5.8, before revising it to 5.9.
Scenes of panicked residents leaving homes have invaded social networks.
Among them, Zume Phim, 33, owner of Melbourne’s Oppen cafe, rushed into the streets when the quake hit.
“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 bit in shock,” Parker Mayo, a 30-year-old cafe worker, told AFP, while images of the Chapel Street shopping area show bricks fallen to the ground.
A magnitude 4 aftershock occurred shortly after the first tremor.
Large earthquakes are unusual in Southeast 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,” said the mayor of Mansfield, near the quake’s epicenter, Mark Holcombe, on the ABC channel.
It is the biggest earthquake in south-eastern Australia in years, Mike Sandiford, a geologist at the University of Melbourne, told AFP.
An earthquake of this magnitude occurs every “10 to 20 years in South East 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 ten 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”.