Earthquake shakes Blackpool area

An earthquake shook homes in north-west England today, according to police.

A small tremor was felt in the Blackpool area at about 3.30am, a spokesman for Lancashire Police said.

He said the force had received "numerous" calls about properties shaking, but no damage had been reported.

The British Geological Survey recorded the Blackpool earthquake with a magnitude of 2.2 on the Richter scale.

It follows an earthquake measuring 3.5 which struck in Coniston, Cumbria, on December 21 last year in which no injuries or damages were reported.

Other recent quakes in the UK include one in February 2008, when a major tremor centred on Lincolnshire shook much of the country, caused damage to buildings and left one man injured.

The tremor - which measured 5.2 on the Richter scale - struck at around 1am on February 27 at Market Rasen.

And in Kent in April 2007, another tremor measured 4.3 on the Richter scale.

Homes were damaged as chimneys toppled, walls cracked and masonry fell when the tremor hit Folkestone. The epicentre of the earthquake was 2.5 miles north east of Blackpool, said the British Geological Survey (BGS).

BGS seismologist Brian Baptie said: "It is a very minor earthquake, it was very weak.

"It would only just be perceptible and nothing for people to be concerned about.

"There are about 20 earthquakes of that size in the UK every year."

An earthquake measuring 2.4 was recorded near Inverness on Tuesday with several villagers in Abriachan reporting they heard "a rumble".

Lancashire Police confirmed they received around 10 calls from concerned members of the public earlier today but no reports of injuries.

Officers were sent to check out reports of cracks on the road over a bridge in Lytham Road but it is understood they have been in place for up to two years.

A spokeswoman for Blackpool Council said structural engineers would assess if there was any fresh damage to the road but it remained open to traffic.

She added there were no reports of any damage elsewhere in the borough, including at the council-owned Blackpool Tower.

It was reported locally that some householders described wardrobe doors being flung open and television sets falling off walls when the tremor struck.