MANCHESTER, England – The strongest earthquake to hit Britain in more than two decades was felt across large parts of the country early today, officials said.
Some homes had minor damage but there were no reports of injuries.
The British Geological Survey said the 5.3-magnitude quake struck at about 1 a.m. and was centered about 125 miles north of London.
Julian Bukits of the British Geological Survey called it the most powerful quake in Britain since a 5.4 temblor hit North Wales in 1984.
“This was a very large earthquake in UK terms, but in world terms average,” Bukits told the Associated Press. “This one has been felt throughout the whole of England and southern Scotland.”
Many people across the region – unaccustomed to such quakes – reported feeling their homes shaken.
“It was scary,” David Somerset told the Associated Press by telephone from Driffield, around 60 miles from the epicenter.
Somerset was working on the computer at the time.
“It was a strange sensation as the room, ornaments and chest of drawers started wobbling and making a loud rumbling noise,” he said.
Lincolnshire police said they had received dozens of phone calls about the temblor and that some minor damage to homes had been reported.
“This is a moderate earthquake,” Rafael Abreu of the U.S. Geological Survey told Sky News from the United States.
He described the tremor as a shallow interplate earthquake.
He said his U.S.-based group initially put the magnitude at 4.7 but would likely adopt the 5.3-magnitude rating from his British counterparts.
Bukits said Britain is hit annually with about 200 quakes but only 10 percent are strong enough to be felt.
A quake of magnitude 5 is capable of causing considerable damage.
The epicenter was in Market Rasen in Lincolnshire, a small market town known for its racecourse, the U.S. Survey said.
“I was in bed at the time and suddenly there was quite a big bang and shaking that woke us up,” said Laura Bocock, who lives close to Market Rasen in northeast England.
“It sounded like someone had hit the bungalow and (I) was quite frightened. I couldn’t get back to sleep because I was scared it could happen again.”
The North West Ambulance service said its crews had also reported feeling the quake but had received “no actual calls from the public,” said a spokeswoman, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the service’s policy.
John Jenkin, of Bourne, said the jolt knocked objects from the shelves of his home.
“I was woken up. It was hell,” he said.
A woman in Notting Hill, a wealthy section of London, reported that her radio was bumping up and down on a shelf for several seconds.