UK earthquake: 3.3-magnitude tremor hits Leighton Buzzard

Quake ‘felt like an explosion’, witnesses say

Chris Baynes
Tuesday 08 September 2020 19:48
UK earthquake: 3.8-magnitude tremor hits Aylesbury

A “dramatic” earthquake has hit parts of England, shaking buildings and forcing schools to evacuate children.

The 3.3-magnitude tremor struck Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire at 9.45am on Tuesday, according to the British Geological Survey (BGS).

People also reported feeling the earthquake in Luton,  Hertfordshire, in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire and in other areas of southeast England. Some felt buildings shake, and children were briefly led out of some schools by teachers.

“The quake itself felt like an explosion. I was in a store room and was terrified what I’d find when I walked out. I was shocked there were no flames or plumes of smoke,” Emily Goddard, in Leighton Buzzard, told The Independent.

“The shaking lasted no more than a second … so I thought it couldn’t be an earthquake as I thought that would last longer.”

The BGS said the tremor’s epicentre was just northwest of Leighton Buzzard, at a depth of 10km.

It received reports from members of the public describing the quake as “like a convoy of HGVs driving past my front door at great speed”, with others saying “the house had one dramatic shake”, and it “felt like the whole house was shaking”.

Usha Chapman, in Luton, said: "I was on a video call with my mum when I felt a sideways push. The door rattled and the TV fixed to the wall also rattled.

"It lasted for five seconds.”

There were no initial reports of damage or injuries.

Bedfordshire Police said in a tweet: “Our control room are currently experiencing a large number of calls due to an earthquake which was felt across the county. We have currently received no reports of any injuries or major structural damage.”

Dave Smith, control station commander at Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said staff had been “busy fielding 999s from concerned callers” but there were “no reports of injuries so far”.

Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service said it received three 999 calls reporting the earthquake, but none about incidents requiring its attendance. 

Between 20 to 30 earthquakes are felt by people in the UK each year, according to the BGS. Hundreds of smaller ones are also recorded by sensitive instruments. 

The strongest recorded British earthquake struck Dogger Bank, off the coast of east England, in 1931, with a magnitude of 6.1. The quake’s epicentre was 60 miles offshore, but it was still powerful enough to cause minor damage to some buildings.

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