UK shaken by 'significant' earthquake

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A "significant" earthquake shook the UK in the early hours of this morning, causing damage to buildings and leaving at least one person injured.

The tremor hit at around 1am and was measured at 5.2 on the Richter scale.

Its epicentre was near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, but the effects of the quake were felt throughout the country.

As far away as Wales, Scotland and London, there were reports of residents being woken from their sleep by the tremor.

Emergency services across England received a high level of calls following the incident, many from people who were frightened when they were woken up to find their home shaking.

It resulted in at least one injury. A man from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, required hospital treatment after a chimney collapsed and fell into his bedroom.

A spokeswoman for South Yorkshire Ambulance Service said: "We had an emergency call to Wombwell, Barnsley. A chimney had come through the bedroom roof."

A Lincolnshire Police spokeswoman said the force took dozens of calls from concerned residents but had no reports of anyone being injured.

"It made us very, very busy for about an hour," she said.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) initially gave the magnitude for the 12.56am earthquake as 5.3 on the Richter scale but later said it was closer to 5.2.

It said the centre was five miles east of Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, and about 15 miles south west of Grimsby.

Seismologist Brian Baptie of the BGS said: "This is a significant earthquake for the UK and will have been widely felt across England and Wales."

The BGS said it records around 200 earthquakes in the UK each year - an eighth of which can be felt by residents.

It said earthquakes of this size occur in the mainland UK around every 30 years but are more common in offshore areas.

Today's quake is the largest since 1984 when an earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale shook the Lleyn Peninsula of north Wales and was widely felt across England and Wales.

Last April, residents in Kent were hit by a similar tremor. Residents in five streets in Folkestone had to be evacuated due to structural damage as a result of the earthquake.

Today's quake was felt across the UK.

People as far apart as Yorkshire, Manchester, Merseyside, Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and London said they felt the tremor.

Bernard Wakefield-Heath, 49, of Stroud, in Gloucestershire, said the tremor shook his block of flats.

Mr Wakefield-Heath, a business consultant, said: "I live in the middle section and I could feel everything around me move, shaking quite considerably.

"It lasted about 10 to 15 seconds at least.

"I remember the quake a few years ago and when you feel something like that, you don't forget it."

John Jenkin, from Bourne in Lincolnshire, was woken by the tremors and said objects fell from shelves.

"I was woken up. It was hell," said Mr Jenkin. "The police around here suddenly became very busy."

A woman in Notting Hill, west London, reported that her radio was rattling up and down on a shelf for several seconds when the tremor struck and it was also felt by reporters in Parliament.

In Howden, East Yorkshire, there were accounts of an office building shaking.

The North West Ambulance Service said its crews reported feeling the tremor from Macclesfield to Southport but had no reports of injuries.

A spokeswoman for the North West Ambulance Service said: "We felt the tremors here in our control room in Anfield.

"We have had a few of our vehicles reporting that they felt the tremors as far as Macclesfield and up towards Southport but no actual calls from the public."

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service dealt with around 200 calls about the earthquake overnight but said they were still dealing with incidents this morning.

A spokesman said: "We've still got some active incidents as daylight has come and people have seen the damage.

"People are waking up and going to work and finding bits have been displaced on chimney stacks or garden walls."

Most of the incidents crews responded to overnight involved collapsed chimneys and dangerous roofs.

The spokesman said the worst-hit area appeared to be Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, but other areas affected included Cleethorpes, Goole, Bridlington and Hull.

He said: "Whilst everyone living in the region was certainly shocked by the experience, spare a thought for Blue Watch in the Humberside Fire and Rescue Service control room who were terrified as the whole of the headquarters building shook through the tremor.

"Control room staff bravely gave reassurance and advice to the many callers whilst not really understanding what had actually happened and being scared themselves."

Former Liberal Democrat MP David Rendel said he felt the tremor at exactly 1am at his home in Thatcham, Berkshire.

"I was sitting at my desk downstairs when I heard quite a large noise and I thought there was a lorry or a train going by but I'm not near a railway line and my lane outside is very small for lorries.

"There then seemed to be a shaking and then at this stage I realised it was an earthquake because it was going on so long. I got up and I felt giddy. It was very definite.

"I went upstairs to see if my son was awake and what he thought and he was coming down to tell me he thought there had been an earthquake but perhaps it was not enough to wake people up."

Local radio on the south coast had reports from people just north of Portsmouth and in Dorset who said the they felt the tremor.

But both Hampshire Police and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said there no incidents reported overnight.