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Strong quake hits southern Africa

At least two Mozambicans have died and 13 been injured as an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 shook southern Africa.

The quake struck central Mozambique at midnight local time and was also felt in several neighbouring countries including Zimbabwe and South Africa.

It is the most powerful earthquake in the area for more than a century.

The two dead were a child and a sick person in the town of Espungabero in Manica province near the epicentre. Cities escaped serious damage.

Traditional houses collapsed in Espungabero says the BBC's Jose Tembe.

Further south in the capital, Maputo, one resident living on the 24th floor of a block of flats said he woke to find his building swaying.

There are no reports of buildings damaged in Maputo, but 15 people in the city were injured, most of them while trying to get out of buildings in panic.

In Espungabero, officials confirmed 13 injuries.

'Explosion'

In Zimbabwe, the quake was felt most strongly in the eastern city of Mutare, near the Mozambique border, but also as far west as Gweru in central Zimbabwe.

"It sounded like an explosion, but I haven't heard of any casualties," said a journalist in Mutare who spoke to Reuters news agency by telephone.

Major earthquakes are unusual in southern Africa.

"It's a significant and unexpected earthquake in this region," William Leith of the United States Geological Survey told Reuters.

"We'll expect aftershocks from an earthquake this large."

Officials in Mozambique's Manica province, where the earthquake was centred, were assessing damage but communication were difficult, provincial governor Raimundo Diomba said.

"We have no human or material damage to report yet - we sent teams to make a detailed evaluation of the situation," he said.

Emergency services in the South African city of Durban, nearly 1,000km from the epicentre, received calls from frightened people in hotels and flats on the beachfront.

BBC World Service listeners in the Swaziland capital, Mbabane, and the central Zambian city of Ndola sent text messages saying they had felt tremors.

Tremors were also felt in Johannesburg.


Did you feel the earthquake? Use the form to send us your experiences.

I heard a roaring sound and the house began to shake vigorously.I then woke up and discovered that even the goods, including my bed was shaking. After the vibration ceased most people in the same street moved out to check what was going on. Some even thought that the world was coming to an end.
Smart Manda, Harare, Zimbabwe

I live on the fifth Floor of a multi-storey building and it was past midnight. I i felt building shaking, I got up in panic and went to the balcon. There I saw the building in front of me swaying. I started running down the stairs and I saw a lot of people running down.
Sunil, Maputo, Mozambique

We were attending a funeral when the quake struck. People were singing and some thought it was coming from the dead and mourners were so scared that most of them ran away from the funeral thinking that spirits of the deceased were trying to send a message to the mourners. It was quite a frightening experience for most of the people who were at the funeral
David Chiwasa, Harare, Zimbabwe

My family awoke at 12:20 to the feeling of the whole house vibrating. It was as though a team of strong men were shaking our beds. I felt very disorientated. My husband just said very calmly: "it's an earthquake". My five-year-old was very indignant and wanted to know who was shaking her bed.
Irene, Harare, Zimbabwe

When it started we thought there robbers over our roof and all the family started shouting "mbavha mbavha" (thieves thieves). We went out of our house and saw our neighbours outside too. We later discovered that it is was an earthquake.
Matambo Douglas, Mutare, Zimbabwe

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SEE ALSO
How earthquakes happen
01 Jun 09 |  Science & Environment
Deadly history of earthquakes
27 Nov 05 |  Special Reports
Powerful quake rocks East Africa
06 Dec 05 |  Africa

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