Quake shakes homes in Scotland

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The Independent Online

The largest earthquake to hit Britain this year shook buildings across southern Scotland yesterday.

Many families were sent running into the street as the quake rattled windows, shook walls and caused a loud bang, which some thought was a massive explosion. Hundreds of people in the Dumfries area reported their houses shaking violently at around 10.45am as the result of a 10-second tremor that seismologists said measured 3.5 on the Richter scale.

The bang was heard across Dumfries and Galloway - from Langholm to Stranraer - and was recorded at a depth of 4.6 miles in the Earth's crust.

Marie Brown, a receptionist at the Station Hotel in Dumfries, said: "I thought there was a convoy of trucks going past. But it didn't stop. The walls then started shaking and I became quite frightened."

The emergency services took hundreds of phone calls from residents fearing there had been a natural disaster or terrorist attack. Although there was no report of any damage or injuries, a police spokesman at Dumfries said the incident was "scary".

The British Geological Survey in Edinburgh said the size of the quake was "significant" but not uncommon.