/ 5 August 2014

Earthquake shakes up Jo’burg

The earthquake caused buildings in cities as far away as Jo'burg to shake for about a minute.
The earthquake caused buildings in cities as far away as Jo'burg to shake for about a minute.

An earthquake shook buildings in Johannesburg and the surrounding areas in South Africa’s most populous province on Tuesday.

The magnitude 5.3 quake was centred six kilometres east of Orkney, 170km southwest of Johannesburg in North West, according to the US Geological Survey.

One person has been reported dead. “A 31-year-old man was found deceased in an old mining village in Orkney,” said ER24 spokesperson Luyanda Majija. “He was found lying under some debris.”

Emergency workers were in the mining village searching for mineworkers presumed to be trapped in 11 shafts. Majija could not immediately confirm the name of the mine.

Officials at AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Gold Fields and Sibanye Gold said earlier that they had felt the tremors at their headquarters but had not received reports of anything untoward in their mines.

Far-reaching effects
The tremors were felt in various parts of the country, shaking buildings, rattling windows and resulting in building evacuations.

The US Geological Survey said on its website,  earthquake report.com, that the quake was felt as far away as Botswana.

“This earthquake is severely dangerous because the epicentre is located right below Orkney and Klerksdorp,” it said.

It reported that severe shaking was felt in Klerksdorp and there was an unconfirmed report of a building that had collapsed, where people were trapped. 

Lindy Sirayi, a guesthouse owner in Orkney, said the tremor broke glass lampshades and cracked a wall, and that dogs started barking during the quake, which lasted about a minute. She received a telephone call informing her that two people were injured at a nearby mine. Aftershocks were felt, but the electricity in the guesthouse stayed on, Sirayi said.

Another person on the US Geological Survey website reported that two children were injured at an Orkney mine and that buildings were damaged.

Citizens from Johannesburg to KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Cape Town reported feeling the quake. Sapa’s reporter in Durban said people in the 32-storey Durban Bay House, one of the tallest buildings in the city, were evacuated.

Johannesburg emergency services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said the tremor was felt in most parts of the city, but that it had “not received any reports of injuries or collapsed buildings. However, we will be monitoring the situation.”

The area round Johannesburg and to its south is home to some of the deepest gold mines in the world. 

And of course, tweeters commented on what was initially thought of as a tremor. – Sapa, Sapa-AP, additional reporting by Staff Reporter