A moderate earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.0 was reported in Johannesburg in the early hours of Sunday morning, and has been confirmed by seismologists at the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
The earthquake was also later confirmed by South Africa’s Council for Geoscience.
According to Earthquakelist.org, a resource for earthquakes happening across the planet, the earthquake was shallow and struck 17 kilometres under ground.
“Shallow earthquakes usually have a larger impact than earthquakes deep in the earth,” the resource noted.
Shaking was reported as far as Botswana. There are rumours that Indonesia, Turkey and the Bali Sea also experienced earthquakes.
Earthquakelist.org are reporting that they do not detect any risk of aftershocks but people should be cautious.
Benoni resident Delwyn Verasamy said he felt the tremors at about 2.38am “with 10 to 15 seconds of continuous shaking, enough to wake up from sleeping”.
Verasamy said the intensity of the earthquake set dogs off and sent birds flying away.
“I don’t think I’ve felt anything this intense, personally, before,” he said.
Various social media reports indicate the quake was felt by residents across Johannesburg.
The earthquake struck six kilometres SSE of Alberton, according to the USGS.
It is unclear at this stage if it has led to any damages or injury.
Strongest earthquake in a few years
Earthquakelist.org also noted that this was the strongest earthquake the country had experienced in about six years.
“Earthquakes of this strength are not so common in the region, but it’s not the first time. This is the strongest earthquake to hit since April 3rd, 2017, when a 5.2 magnitude earthquake hit 148 km further west-southwest. An even stronger magnitude 5.4 earthquake struck on August 5th, 2014.”
The resource noted that there is an average of one earthquake every five years in the region.
While earthquakes this shallow could generally trigger tsunamis, this is not the case as it was a relatively small sized earthquake and far from the ocean so a tsunami warning is highly unlikely, it said.