UK earthquake: 'It was unreal'

“The birds were flying around like it was daylight,” said David Alrewas, one of the thousands of Britons woken at night by the most severe earthquake to strike Britain in 25 years.

The quake, measuring 5,3 on the Richter scale, according to the British Geological Survey (BGS), shook large parts of England and Wales at 1am GMT on Wednesday.

The 10-second quake was the “most significant” tremor to strike Britain since 1984 when an earthquake measuring 5,4 on the Richter scale shook northern Wales, in the west of the British Isles.

Alrewas, from Staffordshire, in northern Britain, told the BBC: “I could see the furniture in the room moving; it was like it was on a jelly mould.”

“All my cupboard doors flew open and the whole house shook. It was unreal,” reported Natasha Cavey, from Tipton, in the Midlands, some distance away from the quake’s epicentre just south of the port of Hull, on the north-east coast of Britain.

“The noise was really, really terrifying ... it was so deep and rumbling,” said Bev Finnegan, who lives in the town of Market Rasen in the county of Lincolnshire, to where the epicentre was traced.

David Somerset, from east Yorkshire, reported his front room shaking and the grandfather clock “rattling rather violently”, while Jemma Harrison in Manchester remembers being woken by a loud bang and a tremendous rumbling noise.

In London, about 200km from the epicentre, a Notting Hill woman reported seeing her radio rattling up and down on a shelf.

Three hours later, an aftershock with a magnitude of 1,8 was felt in large parts of England and Wales.

BBC reporter Lynn Crombie, who lives in the eastern city of Norwich, said the impact felt as if someone had “driven into the side of the house”, while Jamil Ali in Sheffield, northern Britain, believed her home had been invaded by a “load of burglars”.

“An earthquake of this size, of a magnitude of five or thereabouts, will occur roughly every 10 to 20 years in Britain,” said Brian Baptie, of the BGS.

The organisation records about 200 earthquakes in Britain each year, of which about 30 will be felt.

“This was a natural tectonic earthquake caused by a shift in an existing or newly created fault line,” said Bennett Simpson of the seismology team at the BGS.

The largest earthquake ever recorded in Britain struck about 120km north-east of the North Sea port of Great Yarmouth on June 7 1931.
It measured 6,1 on the Richter scale and was felt across Britain, in eastern Ireland, Belgium, The Netherlands, and parts of Germany, France, Norway and Denmark.—Sapa-dpa

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