Earthquake ‘biggest ever in SA’

2014-08-05 16:14

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Today’s earthquake was the biggest to have hit South Africa in modern times, the Council of Geoscience in Pretoria has said.

Denver Birch, a seismologist at the council, said it was a 5.5 magnitude quake – not 5.3 as was estimated by the United States Geological Survey.

“We do not know what triggered the earthquake at this moment. But we suspect it is related to the mining activities around the Orkney area,” he said. The epicentre was the mining town of Orkney, more than 100km from Joburg.


However, the tremors were felt in various parts of the country, including Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State.

Birch said this was because, “when the quake happens it travels far from where it happened and that’s why some provinces experienced it”.

He urged South Africans not to panic, explaining: “Earthquakes are usually the result of a stress build-up in the earth’s crust and when the stress becomes too much, it causes a quake.

“There will be aftershocks today and maybe in the next few days. But what people must know is that we are in a stable region of the continent,” he said.

It was earlier reported that a man had died after a wall had collapsed on him during the earthquake.

It was also reported that miners had been trapped in Orkney, but ER24 has since said no one had been trapped.

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