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Largest earthquake in three decades rocks Victoria

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 20, 2012

  • Erin Michael 
Melbourne earthquake

Source: Herald Sun

Quake 1

Items were shook off shelves at the Chemist Warehouse in Morwell, Victoria. Source:Supplied

A MAGNITUDE 5.3 earthquake shook homes, cracked windows and walls, and threw residents from their chairs.

Millions across Victoria felt the tremor, which had an epicentre 16km south-west of Moe, at theLatrobe Valley in Victoria’s east.

The quake struck at 8.53pm and lasted for 30 seconds, Geoscience Australia spokesman Chris Thompson said.

Up to four aftershocks have been felt surrounding the earthquakes epicentre in the La Trobe Valley in the states east, he said.

”We’ve had reports from central Melbourne and as far as right up the top of the state. Most people would have felt it,” Mr Thompson said.

 SES spokesman Lachlan Quick said 25 calls for assistance had been lodged to the emergency service for low-level damage.

“We’ve been called to residential properties with minor damage from Mt Martha to Preston; Morwell to Moe,” he said.

He warned anyone with significant damage to property to evacuate as a safety precaution.

“If you believe you have significant property damage and are unable to assess it fully, reassess it in the light of day as a precaution,” he said.

“The biggest risks during earthquakes are obviously during the quake but also afterwards when glass can shatter or unstable buildings can collapse.”

A Victoria Police spokesman said there were no reports of major damage yet.

He reminded people to only contact police in the event of an emergency.

Paramedics were responding to an incident in Chelsea Heights after a man fell from his ladder at the time of the quake, Ambulance Victoria spokeswoman Susannah Wilson said

Near the epicentre of the quake, Anthony Atkin, the duty manager of the Criterion Hotel at Trafalgar, west of Moe, said he feared for his life when the quake hit.

”I thought the roof was going to fall down,” Mr Atkin said.

”Everyone in the hotel ran outside, it was like a train was coming through the hotel.

”I’ve been here for 44 years and never felt anything like it.”

Official earthquake report


In the state’s northeast, Bright resident Mandy Ditcham said she felt her house shake just before 9pm and initially thought it was high winds.

”I was sitting by the computer and I felt the ground shaking,” Ms Ditcham said,

”I thought it must have been really windy outside. It was making the house shake… it lasted for about 10 seconds.”

Ski lodges also shook, with Falls Creek spokeswoman Debbie Howie stating it had lasted about 20 seconds in the Alpine region

Newborough resident Amanda Waterston said it was the worst quake she had ever felt.

”The pictures and plates on top of TV unit fell over, my cup of tea and small ornaments, and one of the towel racks in the bathroom, bounced away from the wall.

”My daughter slept through it all – she’s 16 months old.

”I wasn’t too scared because I knew it wouldn’t get worse. It was the strongest on I’ve ever felt.”

Ron Smith from Kew said his whole house shook.

”We heard a roar and thought it was the wind,” he said.

”The floor and the walls shook, the whole house shook.”

Jan Turnbull of East Bentleigh was in bed when the room started moving.

”My lamps were shaking and the windows were rattling, it was quite strong,” she said.

Glen Waverley resident Susan Zunk and her husband felt the tremor as if it was a rollercoaster ride.

”I could feel the vibrations through the floor, we could hear some creaking and cracking noises too. My husband and I just looked at each other and couldn’t believe it. It felt like the house was going to fall down.”

Angelique Farrow said it was the strongest quake she had felt in Mornington in 43 years.

Melbourne Airport spokeswoman Anna Gillett said planes were grounded for up to 10 minutes while authorities conducted precautionary safety checks across its runways and terminals.

East Gippsland an earthquake hazard

THE epicentre of the earthquake, 16km south-west of Moe, has previously experienced significant shakes.

In November 1982, an epicentre rocked Wonnangatta, 100km north of Moe with a magnitude 5.4 quake.

However tonight’s tremor was the largest for the La Trobe Valley district since the 1969 quake occurred 15km away from Moe in Boolarra at the same 5.3 magnitude.

Geoscience Australia senior seismologist Dr Mark Leonard said a dozen faults spread across East Gippsland prompted an earthquake of at least magnitude 5 every 15 years.

He said the region had recently been placed on the agency’s earthquake hazard map.

“East Gippsland is one of the highest areas of earthquake activity in Australia,’’ he said.

“Australia is squeezed from all directions and it can receive earthquakes anywhere and at anytime. Why this area is more active is not that well understood, however there are a line of faults under East Gippsland which were caused from rifting from Antarctica 60 million years ago.

“These faults are quite young geographically and are being compressed in the opposite direction to what they were up to 60 million years ago.

“The fact that these faults exist and are young geographically mean they’re easily reactivated.”

He said the faults stretched from 40km to 100km long across the district.

“They could be anywhere from the surface to 20km down towards the crust,” he said.


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