An earthquake of 5.9 magnitude struck near Melbourne, Australia on Wednesday, according to Geoscience Australia. According to initial reports, buildings in the center of Melbourne shook, and at least one crumbled. However, there have been no reports of any building collapse or fatalities yet.
The Australian government had initially registered the earthquake as magnitude 6, before downgrading it to 5.9. The US Geological Survey (USGS) also recorded the quake at magnitude 5.9. That said, the quake was also felt in cities hundreds of kilometers away and the actually extent of damage to property is to be ascertained.
The quake's epicenter was about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northwest of Melbourne, Australia's second largest city, near the town of Mansfield at a depth of 6 miles (10 kilometers), according to Geosceince Australia. The tremor was accompanied by two smaller earthquakes and was also felt as far away as city of Adelaide, 800 km to the west in the state of South Australia, and Sydney, 900 km to the north in New South Wales state.
Videos posted on social media showed at least one building suffered some damage. Also, power lines were disrupted in the central business district of Melbourne, where some people could be seen running in panic on the streets following the quake.
Many have also been reported to have evacuated the buildings following the tremors. The Victorian State Emergency Service's (VICSES News) said in a tweet: "Please be patient as lines may be busy."
Residents in Melbourne were shocked following the quake and described their moment of panic as houses across the city began to shake. There have been no reports of injuries so far.
Not only the residents, but also authorities were shocked after the quake as the city has not experienced an earthquake of a similar size in decades. The mayor of Mansfield, Mark Holcombe, said he was in his home office on his farm when the quake struck and ran outside for safety.
"I have been in earthquakes overseas before and it seemed to go on longer than I have experienced before," Holcombe told the ABC. "The other thing that surprised me was how noisy it was. It was a real rumbling like a big truck going past."
That said, authorities have ruled out chances of tsunami. "There is no tsunami threat," VICSES News said in a tweet. Geoscience Australia said that the aftershock following the earthquake measured about 4 in magnitude, which came in less than half an hour after the initial shock.
The quake was also caught on the national broadcaster's Melbourne breakfast news show, with hosts Michael Rowland and Tony Armstrong stunned at the vibrations rocking the entire building.
High-magnitude earthquakes are rare in Australia unlike in neighboring New Zealand as it sits in the center of a tectonic plate. However, when they do occur, they are usually located in the country's vast outback, far away from the coastal areas where over 80% of the population resides.
The country recorded its worst earthquake ever in 1988 in the Northern Territory, which measured only 6.6 magnitude, according to Geoscience Australia.