THE biggest earthquake for more than a century has hit Victoria tonight with millions feeling it when it struck just before 9pm (AEST) for around 30 to 40 seconds.
Windows were rattled, floors rocked and roofs shaken as the quake struck around 8.55pm. The Geoscience Australia website was in meltdown as people flocked online to find out what occurred and Twitter went wild and when Geoscience was able to restore its site it had the news that the quake that rocked Victoria was the biggest in the state for 109 years.
The US geological survey reported the earthquake was almost 10km deep with an epicentre between Trafalgar and Moe in the southeast. The SES says it's had more than 30 calls for help. The USGS reported the earthquake hit 120km out of Melbourne, some 10km southwest of Moe. The USGS registered it as a 5.2-magnitude quake, but Geoscience Australia clocked it at 5.3, revising it down from an initial 5.5 reading. Readers have swamped the Herald Sun with calls reporting significant tremors from everyone from the suburbs all the way across the state to country Victoria.
The tremor, which lasted about 20 seconds, has been felt from Kilmore, Gippsland, Drouin, Rowville and inner-Melbourne. Reports are coming in from all over the city - from the Dandenongs in the east, Bentleigh in the southeast, Pascoe Vale in the west and through the inner citSeismologist recorded the massive murmur – almost 10km deep - at 8.53pm.
The mammoth quake spread itself statewide, reaching as far as 10km across southwest of Moe in the state's south-southeast, 18km west of Morwell, 30km off Traralgon and 78km southwest of Sale. It is not yet known if the tremor has caused any damage Darren Gay said he felt tremors in Chirnside Park. “The whole house shook for ages,” he said.
Sunbury’s Tori Sims said the event was “very frightening”. “Sitting on the couch with my little boy the whole couch shook and then it sounded like a massive gust of wind and it rocked the house!” she said.
“Would hate to be caught in a major one!” Lauren Gardiner in rural Victoria said it was also felt in north-east Victoria at Tallangatta and Bullioh, east of Wodonga.
The Geoscience Australia website crashed as people flocked online to find out what occurred.
A spokeswoman for Geoscience Australia said its recordings showed it was a magnitude 5.3 earthquake, which was more accurate than international seismologist estimates.
The epicentre has been identified 16km south-west of Moe, at the Latrobe Valley in Victoria’s east.
“Our preliminary information is that it’s a 5.3,” she said. “We haven’t had any reports of local damage yet.”
People who have experienced damage from the quake are urged to contact the SES.
The Bureau of Meteorology said the quake was felt further afield than Melbourne, with reports coming in from Bright and Myrtleford in the northeast and Wonthaggi in the southeast of Victoria.
Ron Smith from Kew said his whole house shook.
"We heard a roar and thought it was the wind," he told AAP."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.
Near the epicentre of the quake, Moe police constable Chris Hand was enjoying a cup of coffee when it hit.
"I had the cup sitting on the table and it spilled over," Const Hand told AAP "We've had a lot of calls but no one is reporting any damage or injuries at this stage. "It was a decent-size rumble, the biggest I've ever felt.
"The ground moved for 15 to 20 seconds."
Anthony Atkin, the duty manager of the Criterion Hotel at Trafalgar, just 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."
He said the quake lasted for around 20 to 30 seconds "but it felt like a lifetime."
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 told AAP. "I thought it must have been really windy outside. It was making the house shake... it lasted for about 10 seconds." She said the tremor was felt all over the alpine area from Wangaratta to Harrietville. Victorian MP Bruce Billson says members of his community are shaken and puzzled.
"There are plenty of people with shaken nerves, wondering what was going on," Mr Billson told the chamber. Mr Billson said the thoughts of MPs were with the citizens in Victoria affected by the earthquake.
"To our community, our thoughts are with all those responding to anxious calls and hope there is no injuries or substantial damage," he said. Mr Billson has been a Liberal MP for the Melbourne outer southeast/Frankston seat of Dunkley since 1996.
- with AAP
* please note the size of the earthquake has fluctuated from initial reports due to more accurate readings becoming available.
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