5.7 magnitude earthquake rocks Australia tourist towns; no threat of tsunami

USGS says the epicenter was about 54 kilometres off Bowen in Queensland state.

A 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck off northeast coastline of Australia on Thursday, rattling popular tourist towns stretching across more than 1,000 kilometres (620 miles).

The United States Geological Survey said the epicenter of the quake was about 54 kilometres off Bowen in Queensland state, at a depth of seven kilometers.

The Townsville Bulletin reported that buildings in Townsville city were evacuated. Police said there were no reports of any major damage or injury.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said there was no tsunami warning for the island continent.

"It's been widely felt right up the coast, from Sunshine Coast up to north of Townsville, so quite a lot of the Queensland coast has felt some shaking," Geoscience Australia senior seismologist Jonathan Bathgate told AFP.

Bathgate added: "We haven't had any reports of damage at this stage. The fact that it is 50 kilometres offshore is the reason for that. If it was closer to the coast it might have been a different story. We would expect to get aftershock activity after an event of this size."

Several Townsville residents said the tremor lasted for about six to seven seconds.

Earlier on Sunday, a 4.6-magnitude earthquake hit 126 kilometres off the Queensland city of Bundaberg, 800 kilometres south of Bowen.