A rare earthquake rattled southeastern Australia early yesterday, shaking buildings, knocking down walls and sending panicked Melbourne residents running into the streets.
The shallow tremor hit east of the nation’s second-largest city just after 9am and was felt hundreds of kilometers 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 10km.
With Melbourne beginning its eighth week of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and bracing for a third straight day of violent anti-vaccine protests, most residents were at home when the quake struck.
Zume Phim, 33, owner of Melbourne’s Oppen cafe, said he rushed onto the street when the quake hit.
“The whole building was shaking. All the windows, the glass, was shaking — like a wave of shaking,” Phim said. “I have never experienced that before. It was a little bit scary.”
In a popular shopping area around Melbourne’s Chapel Street, masonry debris tumbled from buildings and littered the roads. Bricks and rubble surrounded Betty’s Burgers and large sheets of metal hung off the restaurant awning.
“We were fortunate that nobody was in the restaurant at the time,” the restaurant wrote on Facebook.
Sizeable earthquakes are unusual in Australia.
“It was quite violent, but everyone was kind of in shock,” cafe worker Parker Mayo, 30, said.
At magnitude 5.9, it was “the biggest event in southeast Australia for a long time,” said Mike Sandiford, a geologist at the University of Melbourne. “We had some very big ones at magnitude 6 in the late 1800s, though precise magnitudes are not well known.”
A quake of this size is expected every “10, 20 years in southeast Australia, the last was Thorpdale in 2012,” he said. “This is significantly bigger.”
Geoscience Australia reported the initial quake was followed by a series of four smaller ones, ranging from magnitude 2.5 to 4.1.
Sandiford said that Australians should expect “many hundreds of aftershocks, most below human sensitivity threshold, but probably a dozen or more that will be felt at least nearby.”
The quake “would have caused many billions of dollars in damage had it been under Melbourne,” he added.
The mayor of Mansfield, near the quake epicenter, said there was no damage in the small town, but it had taken residents by surprise.
“I was sitting down at work at my desk and I needed to run outside. It took me a while to work out what it was,” Mansfield Mayor Mark Holcombe told Australian Broadcasting Corp. “We don’t have earthquakes that I am aware of — none of the locals I spoke to this morning had that experience with earthquakes here before — so it is one right out of left field.”
An uncrewed Chinese spacecraft has acquired imagery data covering all of Mars, including visuals of its south pole, after circling the planet more than 1,300 times since early last year, state media reported yesterday. The Tianwen-1 successfully reached the Red Planet in February last year on the country’s inaugural mission there. A robotic rover has since been deployed on the surface as an orbiter surveyed the planet from space. Among the images taken from space were China’s first photographs of the Martian south pole, where almost all of the planet’s water resources are locked. In 2018, an orbiting probe operated by the European
FEELING THREATENED: The first military commission under Kim Jong-un’s leadership to last longer than a day is a sign of a growing escalatory doctrine, an analyst said North Korea discussed assigning additional duties to its frontline army units at a key military meeting, state media said yesterday, suggesting that the country might deploy battlefield nuclear weapons targeting South Korea along the rivals’ tense border. The discussion comes as South Korean officials said North Korea has finished preparations for its first nuclear test in five years, as part of possible efforts to build a warhead to be mounted on short-range weapons capable of hitting targets in South Korea. During an ongoing meeting of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party on Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and
TRADE TALK: Xiao Qian said that Australia had fired the ‘first shot’ in deteriorating trade relations with China, but improvements were possible if Canberra takes action China’s new ambassador to Australia chided protesters who heckled him yesterday during a speech about the future of relations between the two countries. Xiao Qian (肖千), who has only been in the role since January, had just begun his speech at the University of Technology Sydney when the first protesters interjected, calling for freedom for Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. The ambassador was repeatedly interrupted by sign-wielding protesters, some criticizing China’s treatment of the Uighur people as well as the university for inviting Xiao to speak. “People who are coming again and again to interrupt the process, that’s not expression of freedom of
A former South Korean Navy SEAL turned YouTuber who risked jail time to leave Seoul and fight for Ukraine said it would have been a “crime” not to use his skills to help. Ken Rhee, a former special warfare officer, signed up at the Ukrainian embassy in Seoul the moment Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asked for global volunteers and was fighting on the front lines near Kyiv by early March. To get there, he had to break South Korean law — Seoul banned its citizens from traveling to Ukraine, and Rhee, who was injured in a fall while leading a special operations