Tremor puts KZN on edge

2019-11-01 13:01

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KwaZulu-Natal was shaken to its core — literally — as a 3.7 magnitude tremor hit parts of the province, spreading terror through the public on Halloween on Thursday. 

The Council of Geoscience said the tremor happened near Sawoti on the R617, roughly 72km south-west of Durban, shortly after 1 pm, and that it was felt in parts of Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Hilton and Underberg.

The public was sent into a frenzy in the wake of the tremor, with reports of shaking fixtures and furniture dominating social media.

Later in the day the incident took a lighter turn, with a flurry of memes being posted poking fun at it. Rumours that the tremor was the result of an earthquake in the Philippines that happened earlier in the day were dismissed by the Council for Geosciences, which also called for calm from the public.

The Sawoti police station, near the epicentre of the tremor, reported having a power outage after cops felt an “extreme” shake, which even caused officers to take cover.

“It felt like a very big truck was driving past us at full speed. It would loud and rumbly and everything was just shaking,” one officer said. The officer said he had not received any reports of damages or injuries. Umzinto, on the South Coast, had had its electricity supply momentarily affected.

kzn tremor

Council for Geosciences spokesperson Mahlaphe Manamela said the tremor registered 3.7 on the local magnitude scale recorded by the South African Seismograph Network.

“Although the tremor could be felt around the southwest of the Durban area, its epicentre has been located to areas around the R612 and further in towards Pietermaritzburg, Hilton and Underberg,” she said.

Professor Jasper Knight, of the geology department at the University of Witwatersrand, did not believe this tremor was cause for concern, saying they happened often.

“It is just an expression of deep movement of the Earth,” he told The Witness. “It did occur in a location in South Africa which is outside of the zones where tremors are usually found, because tremors usually occur near mining activity. So this one very likely represents the shifting of the old African continent along ancient fractures along the earth’s surface.”

Knight believed the area the tremor occurred on may “correspond” with the same tectonic system as the Democratic Republic of Congo, which recently had an earthquake.

“This is nothing to worry about. The magnitude of the tremor was strong enough to be felt, but too weak to do any significant damage. I would be very surprised if there’s any damage.

“It is scientifically very interesting, and it is a reminder that the Earth is still there and it’s still moving.”

The MEC for Co-operative Governance, Sipho Hlomuka, said no disasters had been reported as a result of the tremor. “Our disaster management teams are monitoring the situation closely and are ready to intervene in any part of KZN with speed should it become necessary.”

'Just the Boks warming up'

Within minutes of putting up a question on The Witness Facebook page asking people if they had felt the tremor, over 500 people said they felt it around Durban, Amanzimtoti, Hibberdene, Pietermaritzburg and Port Shepstone on Thursday afternoon.

Local teacher Candice Hubbard said, “My class and I felt it. We were busy learning about the Earth’s crust. Talk about an awesome lesson!”

Samantha Jooste from Ballito said it felt like someone was tickling the bottom of her shoes, while Thenjiwe Hlatshwayo said “Yhooo I’m still dizzy. I went outside the house thought someone is trying to break in into my house.”

Zakhira Mahomed from Hayfields said, “I was so scared, I thought someone was walking on my roof.”

Nombuso Ziqubu Gwamanda said, “I almost had a heart attack, thought something was falling on my house.”

Erika Rauh wrote, “My daughter felt it in Clarendon. Just sent me an urgent message to phone her.

“She is freaked out fearing the earth is going to open up and swallow her, the house and animals!"

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  kzn tremor

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