News Rumble in the night as magnitude 5.3 earthquake strikes near regional WA towns
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Rumble in the night as magnitude 5.3 earthquake strikes near regional WA towns

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Residents of WA’s Pilbara region, in the state’s north-west, have experienced a surprise earthquake on Saturday night that caused houses to shake and rattle.

Geoscience Australia says the magnitude 5.3 earthquake struck near the town of Marble Bar at 9.05pm local time, followed by several apparent aftershocks of magnitude 2.6, 3.1 and 3.2 within two hours.

Seismologists said the tremor, at a shallow depth of 10km, had been reported as being felt in Port Hedland and Karratha.

The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no risk of a tsunami to the Australian mainland or surrounding islands or territories from the earthquake.

Manager of local pub Last Chance Tavern, David Paddington, told The West Australian newspaper the earthquake lasted up to 20 seconds and he saw the “beer tap lines rocking”.

“It was the biggest quake I’ve ever felt, so it was pretty reasonable,” he said.

“All the spirit bottles in the back bar were rocking.

“It was quite large, it went on a while.”

It’s not uncommon for WA to experience earthquakes, with 23 recorded since 2000 that were magnitude 5.0 or higher.

The Volcano Discovery website said the latest quake would have been widely felt by people living in the area of the epicentre.

“Moderate shaking probably occurred in Marble Bar (pop. 1000) located 10 miles from the epicentre,” the website notes.

“Weak shaking might have been felt in Nullagine (pop. 2,600) located 49 miles from the epicentre.”

The earthquake was considered “shallow” which Volcano Discovery’s site explained would be felt more strongly than deeper ones.

“The exact magnitude, epicentre, and depth of the quake might be revised within the next few hours or minutes as seismologists review data and refine their calculations, or as other agencies issue their report.”

In September, Victoria was rocked by its largest earthquake in history — a 5.9 magnitude event with an epicentre near Mansfield in the state’s north-east that was felt across Melbourne and as far away as Canberra, Sydney and Adelaide.

-with AAP