A strong earthquake - 5,8 degrees according to the American Institute of Geological Survey (USGS), 6,0 degrees according to the Australian Institute of Geoscience (Geoscience Australia) - struck southeastern Australia this morning in the district of Melbourne, causing damage , while snapshots depicting residents panicking in the streets are circulating on social networking sites.
The epicenter was reported near the rural town of Mansfield, in Victoria, about 200 miles northeast of Melbourne; it had a particularly shallow depth of 10 kilometers. It shook buildings in Australia's second largest city, where no injuries have been reported, according to authorities.
Large earthquakes are quite uncommon in southeastern Australia, a densely populated area: almost half of the country's population, numbering up to 25 million, lives there.
First aid services said they received calls even from Dubbo, 700 kilometers from the epicenter. The quake affected Adelaide, 900 kilometers north.
Electricity has been cut off in a part of Melbourne.
"Everything started to shake (…) Everyone was a little shocked," said Parker Mayo, a 30-year-old coffee worker, while in the very commercial Chapel Street bricks were visible on the streets.
Mansfield Mayor Mark Holcombe said he was at home sitting at his desk to work when the quake struck. It "took him a while" to figure out what was going on, he confessed, before going out to be safe. "I have experienced earthquakes abroad and it seemed to last longer than I had ever experienced," Holcombe told ABC television. "Another thing that surprised me was how much noise it made. It was as if a big truck was passing by. "
No tsunami alert was issued.
The quake struck as new anti-lockdown demonstrations were planned to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus pandemic in Melbourne for a third day in a row.