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Rare earthquake jolts Australia’s Melbourne

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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).

Debris littered roads in the popular shopping area around Melbourne’s Chapel Street, with bricks apparently coming loose from buildings.

Zume Phim, 33, owner of Melbourne’s Oppen cafe, said he rushed onto the street when the temblor hit.

“The whole building was shaking. All the windows, the glass, was shaking — like a wave of shaking,” he said.

Sizable earthquakes are unusual in Australia’s populated southeast.

At around just under magnitude six this was “the biggest event in south east Australia for a long time” Mike Sandiford, a geologist at the University of Melbourne said. A quake of this size is expected every “10-20 years in south east Australia, the last was Thorpdale in 2012” he said. “This is significantly bigger.”

The quake “would have caused many billions of dollars in damage had it been under Melbourne,” he added. Geosciences Australia said an aftershock measuring 4.0 struck shortly after the initial temblor.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, speaking from New York, said there were no initial reports of injuries.

“It can be a very, very disturbing event for an earthquake of this nature,” he said. “They are very rare events in Australia.”

– THE HINDUSTAN TIMES

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