Quake hits central Africa

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The Independent Online

A powerful earthquake hit the Lake Tanganyika area of central Africa today.

The United States Geological Survey said its 6.8 measurement was preliminary and was located in the area of Lake Tanganyika, between Congo and Tanzania. Quakes of magnitude 7 can cause widespread and heavy damage.

The quake was felt across the region at about 1320GMT, a time when people were working or at school.

"We felt the tremor in our offices. People fled their buildings to save their lives, but so far we have no reports of casualties," said Elmon Mahawa, the regional commissioner for Kigoma, a Tanzanian town on the shores of Lake Tanganyika that the USGS said was 150 kilometres from the centre of the quake.

Henri Burgard, UN spokesman in the Congolese town of Uvira, said the quake lasted 30 seconds.

"The buildings shook quiet strongly. We have no reports of deaths so far," he said.

In Bujumbura, the capital of the central African nation of Burundi, an Associated Press reporter felt the three-story building he was in swing and he felt two shocks.

Workers in buildings in downtown Nairobi left their offices in panic. The quake was also felt in Mombasa, on Kenya's coast.