Melbourne and parts of Victoria were rattled by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake on Wednesday morning, causing building damage and reports of violent shaking from Geelong to Gippsland. The tremors were also felt across parts of Sydney, Adelaide, Launceston and Canberra. NSW Fire and Rescue said crews had been sent to locations including Alexandria, Manly and Hornsby in Sydney and as far as Dubbo in the state’s west.
Geosciences Australia has confirmed it is the largest earthquake ever recorded on land in Victoria. The largest earthquake ever recorded in Australia was in 1968, a 6.5-magnitude in Meckering, Western Australia. The earthquake was recorded near Mansfield, around 180 kilometres northeast of Melbourne, at a depth of 10 kilometres, just after 9.15am. A smaller tremor (4.0 magnitude at a depth of 12 kilometres) was recorded about 15 minutes later, and a third (3.1 magnitude at 6 kilometres) hit at 9.54am.
Australia’s grand old heritage brick buildings are most vulnerable to earthquake damage and also the structures most likely to injure or maim bystanders, expert engineers say.
Older style shops with brick facades, like the two-storey building in Melbourne’s Chapel Street that partially collapsed during this morning’s magnitude 5.9 strike (downgraded from 6.0), are particularly vulnerable to shocks, said Marc Colella, the global head of building engineering at consultancy firm Aecom.
Goldrush-era buildings in Melbourne and surrounding regional towns, as well as many main street buildings constructed during the 1960s and 1970s, are most likely to injure or maim bystanders with falling debris and masonry.
“Most injuries and fatalities are typically from those type of buildings that collapse on innocent bystanders,” Mr Colella said.
The city’s towering skyscrapers are more resilient, he said.
“I don’t think this will cause much damage to our large buildings.”
If there was any damage, it was likely to be cosmetic, but that was still a big risk, because of falling debris and masonry, he said.
“If we were not in lockdown, we could have had serious injuries.”