Parts of Darwin have been shut down and residents and workers evacuated after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Indonesia rocked northern Australia.
Residents in the Northern Territory’s capital have told how they felt the earth move and heard a “rumble” on Monday morning, while as far away as northern Queensland buildings were also shaken.
The Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed there is no threat of a tsunami following the quake. But authorities have warned that aftershocks are expected.
Brett Lubicz, general manager of Hotel Darwin, told The New Daily how the first sign of trouble was when the pub’s chairs started “swaying”.
“The chandeliers in the main bar started swinging … you could tell the earth was moving under you,” Mr Lubicz said.
“That was the biggest one [quake] I’ve felt. I’ve been here for four years.
“We were standing out the front saying [to evacuated locals] ‘Come in, pub’s open’,” Mr Lubicz said.
In a description bound to do larrikins in the NT proud, adventurer Damian ‘Wildman’ Duffy said: “We’ve just had a bloody earthquake!”
“I felt a bit of a rumble going on … I wasn’t sure if it was my guts … having a few too many drinks or something like that.
“There’s people everywhere out on the street … What an absolute spin out … dead set, just had an earthquake in Darwin”.
He said that while there was an initial safety fear, the shock soon wore off. With no major damage done, there was relief in the air, and locals were “buzzing”.
“It was my first earthquake,” Mr Duffy told The New Daily.
“It’s the talk of the town. Not too much happens – they’ll be talking about it down the pub tonight.”
Other Darwin locals took to social media to tell how they evacuated homes and offices, unsure of how severe the safety threat was.
“Left our lunch on the table and ran out of house with our four-month-old daughter,” Dipa Gurung wrote.
Geoscience Australia’s senior seismologist Jonathan Bathgate told The New Daily that smaller earthquakes were common in the region. A magnitude 5.2 was felt on June 17, and a magnitude 5 the next day.
“It’s a significant earthquake. It’s been widely felt,” Mr Bathgate said.
“[The NT] is almost 700 kilometres wide and it’s been felt widely across the area.”
He said residents should expect more “activity” as a result of Monday’s quake. It’s believed the shakes in tectonic plates were deep enough – some 200 kilometres under the sea – not to cause a tsunami.
“We had a magnitude five aftershock so far, and that activity will continue. We can’t predict any large events in this sequence but we expect activity.
“Generally, when you get a large earthquake you get an aftershock by the decrease in magnitude over time.”
— Sowaibah Hanifie (@SowaibahH) June 24, 2019
Monday’s tremors lasted about five minutes, after the earthquake struck in the remote Banda Sea about 11.05am.
Some shops in Darwin’s Casuarina Shopping Centre and several hotels evacuated customers before closing.
The quake hit at a depth of 220 kilometres, the United States Geological Survey reported. There were no immediate reports of damage or injury.
— Bureau of Meteorology, Australia (@BOM_au) June 24, 2019
The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami was not expected after the quake, which was initially recorded with a magnitude of 7.2.
Indonesia is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to its location along the Pacific “Ring of Fire”. A powerful Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004 killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries, most in Indonesia.
— Phillippa Butt (@phillippabutt) June 24, 2019