The aftershocks of Australia’s most powerful earthquake to hit a major population centre in 50 years could rattle the country for months, officials have warned.
A magnitude 5.8 earthquake on Wednesday rocked Melbourne and demolished part of a Betty’s Burgers restaurant on the city’s famous Chapel Street – with residents living as far away as Sydney, Tasmania and South Australia feeling the tremors.
The quake struck at 9.15am near the small town of Mansfield 180km north-east of Melbourne and temporarily knocked out power for 35,000 homes and businesses.
The tremor is the largest earthquake to affect one of Australia’s major cities since a magnitude 6.5 quake hit 130km east of Perth in October 1968.
There have been six aftershocks since with magnitudes between 2.4 and 4.1 and Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said further tremors could hit the state for weeks and months to come.
Locals are pictured examining debris from a damaged building along Chapel Street in Melbourne on Wednesday
An apartment building is evacuated in the Melbourne CBD on Wednesday morning after the earthquake
‘We will likely see more aftershocks for weeks or even months,’ he told a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
‘They say it’s unlikely we will see anything that will equal or exceed what we saw at 9.15am this morning but there is a chance of significant aftershocks impacting Victoria.’
There have been no reported injuries from Wednesday morning’s earthquake but Victoria’s State Emergency Service said it has responded to 100 requests for assistance across the state.
The requests were mainly due to minor structural damage to buildings such as chimney and facade collapses, SES Chief Officer Tim Wiebusch said.
Mr Wiebusch said the partly-demolished restaurant on Chapel Street and a facade collapse in Brunswick Road in Fitzroy were the two most significant reports of structural damage in Melbourne.
Some 60 traders have reported damage along the famous promenade.
No one was inside the restaurant when the earthquake hit, managing director Troy McDonagh said.
Deputy Premier James Merlino said the Beechworth hospital in north-eastern Victoria lost power lost power following the earthquake
‘We’re out for months, it’s structural, it looks like the top’s come away, we need to get engineers in to assess it and then the works will need to be completed,’ he said.
However, reports of damage have emerged from the Mansfield township and the Beechworth hospital in north-eastern Victoria lost power, Deputy Premier James Merlino said.
Office and apartment blocks across Melbourne were evacuated immediately following the earthquake.
There are also reports of damage in Prahran – where rubble was seen strewn across the road on Wattle Street – Brunswick, West Melbourne and Albert Park.
A homeowner near Leongatha in South Gippsland who was in the bathroom when the earthquake hit said the sound was like a ‘jet engine’ and the glass shower screen was shaking.
Pictures have emerged of a Betty’s Burgers restaurant partially collapsed on Chapel St in Melbourne’s inner-city after a magnitude 5.8 earthquake
Emergency and rescue officials examine a damaged building in the popular shopping Chapel Street in Melbourne following the earthquake
Rubble is pictured outside the Betty’s Burgers on Chapel Street after the building was damaged by the earthquake
Two people crouch down after the earthquake forced with the evacuation of a Melbourne building on Wednesday morning
A building also appeared to have been damaged by the earthquake on Wattle Street in Melbourne’s inner-city Prahran
Pictured are people evacuating Melbourne CBD buildings after Melbourne felt the tremors from a magnitude 5.8 earthquake on Wednesday morning
‘I grabbed my granddaughter and held her tight,’ the woman said. ‘It was very frightening.’
‘The whole world just shook,’ another Victorian said.
New Zealander Colin, who lives in Ferntree Gully in Melbourne, said the quake felt just as powerful as the magnitude 6.2 Christchurch earthquake in 2011 that caused widespread damage across the city and killed 185 people.
‘About 30 seconds it lasted. I didn’t know whether to run outside or upstairs,’ he told Newstalk ZB.
‘I’m in a solid concrete house, so it really shook. It shook as much as I’ve felt in Christchurch.’
Pictured: Damage to the Betty’s Burgers restaurant. The earthquake has been reported in Victoria and tremors were felt across Melbourne and as far away as Canberra and Sydney
Seismology Research Centre chief scientist Adam Pascale said it was not surprising the quake had been felt as far away as Canberra’s Parliament House, central Sydney, northern Tasmania and parts of Adelaide.
He said because Australia’s south-east is part of a stable continental region of old, hard rock, the energy from a quake travels further.
‘A magnitude 5.8 in California wouldn’t be felt anywhere near as far as in southeast Australia,’ he said.
Victoria’s State Emergency Service confirmed the earthquake was ‘6.0 on the Richter scale and emanated from Mansfield. There is no tsunami threat’.
Premier Daniel Andrews made the first official reaction to the earthquake, tweeting at 9.47am: ‘Yes, that was an earthquake.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison then fronted a press conference in Washington DC – where he is taking part in the Quad leaders summit – to reveal the ‘rare event’ had so far led to no injuries.
‘These are very rare events in Australia and I am sure people would have been disturbed – particularly in the most immediate area effected,’ he said.
‘The agencies at a state government level are there responding, and the federal Government will provide the support that is necessary.’
Extraordinary moment ABC’s Melbourne studio is hit by an earthquake live on air – and the News Breakfast presenters have VERY different reactions
News Breakfast presenters have had two very different responses to an earthquake that hit the ABC’s Melbourne studio.
The magnitude 5.8 quake was felt across Melbourne at 9.15am on Wednesday, with residents reporting feeling strong tremors for 30 seconds.
Presenters Michael Rowland and Tony Armstrong were forced to stop mid-program when the studio began to shake.
‘Is it an earthquake or a structural thing?’ a concerned Mr Rowland is heard asking.
The anxious presenter grabbed his phone and prepared to leave the studio as his smiling co-host remained seemingly unbothered by the tremors.
‘Let’s go,’ Mr Rowland said to the newsroom.
‘That was a big one.’
‘That’s still tremoring,’ Mr Armstrong added.
Presenters Michael Rowland (left) and Tony Armstrong (right) were forced to stop mid-program when the earthquake began to shake the ABC’s Melbourne studio on Wednesday
Twitter users were quick to poke fun at the pair with many comparing the hosts’ polar-opposite reactions to the large earthquake.
‘Let’s go!’ What a bad ass reaction from Michael!’ one user said.
‘For fans of Tony, all we see is him holding down that desk and saving the building,’ another woman tweeted.
‘He was cool, calm and collected. As always,’ a third agreed.
Mr Rowland tagged his co-host in a post to social media following the quake tweeting: ‘That was quite a post-show chat with @Tonaaayy_.’
Mr Morrison said he was in ‘text contact’ with Mr Andrews about the quake.
He said any federal response to the emergency will be handled by Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.
Emergency crews have warned Victorians to brace for further aftershocks throughout the day.
‘If you are located in Victoria, you are in danger,’ Victoria’s SES said in a statement.
The SES is receiving calls for assistance from across the state but is yet to make an assessment of any damage.
Lynne Myers of High County Apparel in Mansfield told AAP ‘it just scared the hell out of us.’
The epicentre of the quake was in Mansfield in eastern Victoria but the shockwaves were felt as far south as Tasmania and as far north as NSW
‘Everything shook, the roof shook, boots fell off the shelf and I just ran outside,’ she said.
‘There’s no cracks or anything in the walls. We seem to have got over it pretty well. Everyone’s a bit shaken up here but there doesn’t seem to be any damage.
‘I’ve lived here 29 years and have never felt anything like it.’
Mansfield Shire Councillor Mark Holcombe said he lived in the area for 20 years but had never experienced an earthquake.
He said it ‘came out of left field’.
Alice Murphy, a resident of Fitzroy 3km north of the Melbourne CBD, was working at her laptop when the tremors began.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison faced a press conference in Washington DC – where he is taking part in the Quad leaders summit – to reveal the ‘rare’ earthquake had so far led to no injuries
Melbourne residents walk past debris in the city on Wednesday after the earthquake, pictured right a police car in Windsor in the inner-city in the quake’s aftermath
‘For a second I thought it was a tram passing by or a huge gust of wind, but then the walls were shaking and the candles were bouncing off the mantlepiece,’ she said.
‘It lasted about 20 seconds and then everyone spilled out onto the street to make sure they hadn’t imagined it!’
A woman named Elizabeth from eastern Melbourne was on a work call when the quake hit.
‘All the windows were shaking, I yelled at the kids to come and stand in a doorway but our eight-year-old ran outside to see if any sinkholes were opening up,’ she said.
‘Fortunately that didn’t happen.’
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND’S BIGGEST EARTHQUAKES
1989 Newcastle earthquake
The magnitude 5.6 quake that struck in the suburbs of Newcastle, NSW is widely regarded as one of Australia’s worst natural disasters.
Thirteen people died and more than 160 were injured – with the damage cost estimated at $4billion.
The earthquake damaged more than 35,000 homes and 147 schools.
1988 Tennant Creek earthquake
The magnitude 6.6 earthquake in a sparsely-populated region of the Northern Territory is Australia’s most powerful earthquake on record.
The quake damaged a major gas pipeline, but homes in the town sustained only minor damage.
2011 Christchurch earthquake
A 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch, on New Zealand’s south island, on February 22, 2011 – claiming the lives of 185 people and leaving an estimated 2,000 with injuries.
The quake struck 6.7km southeast of the city at a depth of 6km.
Craig Luelf from the All Seasons Mansfield resort said he was outside the town hospital when he felt ‘waves of the ground moving’.
‘At first, I thought the car was having a few issues and then realised all of a sudden that everything was moving,’ he said.
‘My father’s neighbour is at the top of a hill and he could see the waves of the ground moving up the hill.’
Social media users in Melbourne reacted with shock after the earthquake shook the Victorian capital
Ciara Lynch, a 26-year-old Irishwoman living in Balaclava, nine kilometres south of the CBD, was in a Zoom meeting with colleagues in Melbourne and Sydney when her living room started to shake.
‘People were screaming on the call, it was the wildest thing I’ve ever experienced,’ she said.
Baristas at Industry Beans cafe in Melbourne’s inner-north said the walls ‘rumbled’ and lights swung from side to side while they took their morning break.
‘It’s the Dan Andreas Fault’: Hilarious reactions to the ‘biggest earthquake since European settlement’ as it rocks Melbourne and Australia’s south-east
Australians have flocked to social media with hilarious reactions after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Melbourne and the nation’s southeast.
The quake was 10km deep and centred at Mansfield, a small town on the foothills of Victoria’s alps, at around 9.15am, with tremors felt as far away as NSW and Tasmania.
It is the biggest earthquake Victoria has experienced since European settlement (1834) more aftershocks are expected.
Despite the terrifying nature of the event, light-hearted Aussies were quick to poke fun at the situation which coincidentally coincided with the third day of planned anti-vax protests in Melbourne as construction workers rally against jab mandates.
A meme quickly began circulating on social media showing Dan Andrews in China, making a call to ‘unleash the earthquake’ in Victoria to punish residents.
A massive 5.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Melbourne on Tuesday, with tremors felt as far away as the NSW Central Coast. Pictured: Damaged buildings are seen along Chapel Street
‘When the police said they were deploying ‘different tactics’ in response to the Melbourne protests, firing up an earthquake machine was not something I had on the pick list,’ one person tweeted.
‘No no need to worry Melbourne. That was just Dan Andrews turning Victoria off and then back on again,’ another man wrote.
Several others joked the earthquake was caused by the ‘Dan Andreas Fault’ – a name play on the 1200km long San Andreas Fault that runs through California.
Meanwhile, some suggested the premier would be cracking down on Covid restrictions in light of the destruction caused by the natural phenomenon.
One meme circulating online joked the earthquake was ordered by Premier Dan Andrews following days of anti-vax protests across Melbourne
Many Aussies joked the natural phenomenon was sanctioned by the Victorian government
‘Dan Andrews to lock down Victoria until we eliminate earthquakes,’ one person tweeted.
‘The earthquake has been fined for going outside of a 5km radius,’ another added.
‘Starting to feel like @Dan Andrews roadmap is actually the worst game of Jumanji ever,’ a third said.
A locked-down NSW resident claimed the earthquake would not have been allowed to spark widespread damage in his state.
‘Sydney earthquakes are only allowed within 5km of your home, with only two aftershocks permitted,’ he wrote.
‘No earthquakes may continue past 10pm on a weeknight, unless situated at the casino.’
Someone else quipped the earthquake should be subjected to Covid vaccine requirements.
‘The earthquake can’t just move around the state freely like that without at least 1 dose of the vaccination #IShakeWithDan,’ they wrote.