Melbourne rocked by magnitude 5.9 earthquake

·4-min read
  • 5.9 magnitude struck at 9.15am

  • Epicentre at Mansfield, a small town north of Melbourne

  • Inner-city Melbourne buildings damaged

  • Warning of further aftershocks

The southeast coast of Australia has been rocked by a large earthquake, shaking buildings in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. 

Eyewitness accounts are flooding in of residents fleeing apartment blocks in Melbourne after feeling strong tremors for up to 30 seconds. 

Social media has been inundated with images from inner-city suburbs which show rubble strewn across streets believed to be due to quake damage. 

Early reports suggest at least 46 buildings have been damaged across Victoria in the earthquake. 

A large earthquake has caused significant damage to the side of an inner-city Melbourne building. Source: Twitter
A large earthquake has caused significant damage to the side of an inner-city Melbourne building. Source: Twitter

Mansfield the earthquake epicentre  

A 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck at 9.15am on Wednesday with an epicentre at Mansfield, a small town north of Melbourne, and was felt as far as Canberra, Sydney and Tasmania. 

A 4.0 magnitude aftershock was then recorded at around 9.33am, with another 3.1 shock at Rawson at 9.54am. 

The Victorian State Emergency Service said there is no tsunami threat. 

The shock of the 1989 earthquake in Newcastle that killed 13 people - one of Australia's most serious natural disasters - was a 5.6.

Buildings damaged as earthquake chaos revealed 

The extent of the damage is beginning to emerge with debris scattered across Melbourne's Chapel Street in Windsor where part of a wall toppled in the quake. 

Betty's Burgers restaurant in Windsor also suffered significant damage with what looks like a collapsing wall. 

Residents caught off-guard as apartments shook 

A resident living in Melbourne’s suburb of Thornbury told Yahoo News Australia she felt her “whole building shaking”.

“I thought my neighbours upstairs were jumping,” she said.

“Then I heard people running out from their units and standing on the street.”

Her partner added they were both working in separate rooms before the “whole apartment building started shaking and making a low rumbling”. 

“My immediate thought was this is a tremor, my next thought was this can't be an earthquake because this doesn't happen in Melbourne, but it was the largest 'tremor' I'd ever felt,” he told Yahoo News. 

He got his partner and they ran into the next room and “both hugged and stood under a doorway in the kitchen”.

“That was the only thing I remembered vaguely about earthquakes,” he said.

“When it stopped we went outside and our apartment neighbours were outside looking like stunned mullets.”

Damage to the exterior of Betty's Burgers on Chapel Street in Windsor following an earthquake, Melbourne. Source: AAP
Shocking pictures show the damage after a powerful earthquake struck Victoria, with debris scattered across Melbourne's main shopping strip. Source: AAP

A resident in Melbourne's east told Yahoo News it felt like they were on a boat rocking in big waves. 

"I was in bed, and the house started shaking and then kept going, and I thought, that's not right. 

"My wife ran down to the back of the house to check it wasn't the washing machine. I leapt up realising what it was and I was totally nude. So luckily I put on a dressing gown and we all ran outside and all the neighbours were outside at that point too. 

"I was very frightened. It went along a lot longer than I expected it to, I've certainly never built anything like that before."

Threat of larger event and aftershocks loom

Seismology Research Centre head Adam Pascale said it was a "significant earthquake", warning smaller aftershocks could continue for months.

"There is a small likelihood that there could be a larger event but we'll see as we go," he told the ABC.

"The main things for people to remember is if they do start to feel some shaking. There's usually a primary and a secondary wave.

"The primary wave will give you a few seconds to get under a table and hold on."

Damage to the exterior of Betty's Burgers on Chapel Street in Windsor following an earthquake, Melbourne. Source: AAP
Both quakes occured at a depth of 10km, according to Geoscience Australia. Source: AAP

ABC: Shudders felt in TV studio 

Dramatic footage shows the moment the earthquake hit the ABC Breakfast studio in Melbourne. 

“There’s an earthquake! Holy s**t!” one voice can be heard saying off-camera.

Host Michael Rowlands said: “It was quite frightening."

The program was off-air at the time but staff were chatting in the studio after the show when the studio started shaking. 

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