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Breakfast Monday, 23 September, 2002, 05:17 GMT 06:17 UK
Earthquake hits UK
British Geological Survey chart
The UK has a powerful quake about once a decade
An earthquake measuring four point eight on the Richter scale has shaken huge parts of England and Wales.

Thousands of you were woken by the tremor early this morning, and have been contacting us with your tales.

An earth tremor measuring 4.8 on the Richter Scale has rocked many parts of Britain.

Emergency services say they were inundated with calls after the quake, which struck just before one o'clock in the morning.

There have been no reports of any injuries or serious damage.

It seems to have centred around Birmingham in the West Midlands - but was felt by people hundreds of miles away, in places as far apart as Sheffield, Liverpool, Swansea and London.

More than five thousand people rang the West Midlands police and ambulance service causing havoc for the emergency services.,

  • Breakfast spoke to Peter Styles, Professor of geophysics at Keele University in Staffordshire. He said:


    I heard it, it is quite rare. There was a minor one two years ago. A more serious one happened ten years ago. There will be some aftershocks, they will be of 2-3 magnitude, many won't feel them, but they will register on our instruments. The maximum magnitude to occur in the UK will not be more than 6 - that's 30 times bigger than this one, but that is unlikely.

    Breakfast's John Sudworth reports:

    The quake began at around five to one this morning. Centred on Dudley in the West Midlands it lasted about fifteen seconds.... Edwina Currie was on air at the time, broadcasting her Radio 5 live show from Pebble Mill in Birmingham...Seismologists say its the largest earthquake recorded in the UK for ten years. People felt the tremor in Merseyside, Sheffield, the midlands, London and most of Wales. Stephen Delaney from Gnosley in Stafford was one of dozens of people to ring the BBC after he and his wife were wakened by the tremor...West midlands police received 5000 calls to their switchboard 600 people dialled 999, but there are no reports of any injuries or serious damage.


    Your Comments:

    I was woken by the tremor at 1am - and was relieved to hear on BBC News 24 shortly after that I had in fact felt the tremor here 10 miles south of Manchester!
    Nicky

    We felt a tremor here in sheffield at 12.45 this morning, lasting 2 or 3 seconds, it was fairly strong, shaking furniture.
    Micah

    I was in the bath when the whole house shook. We are three hundred miles from Wales... It lasted for about ten seconds and I tried for 45 mins to phone 999 but I could not get through as the line was jammed. It was very scary, the house was shaking badly.
    Justin Northern



    The shaking and trembling was really quite severe. Quite a few people came out of their houses wondering what was going on

    Richard Flynn Oldham

    BBC weather forecaster Pete Gibbs said: "It's not that unusual to have an earth tremor, but it is unusual to be that widespread and that widely reported.

    "However, earth tremors are certainly not that uncommon in the UK."

    West Midlands Police said they had 5,000 calls to their switchboard within an hour of the tremor happening and 600 calls to the 999 number.

    Dudley police said 12 people in nightclothes walked into their local police station.

    Likened to bomb blast

    Julian Bukits, of the British Geological Survey, said an earthquake of magnitude four is equivalent to 1,000 tonnes of TNT - that in turn is equivalent to the power of a small nuclear weapon.

    Although Monday's earthquake was large by British experiences, tremors in places like California, Japan and India can reach seven on the Richter scale.

    Monday's earthquake is larger than the one that hit Melton Mowbray, East Midlands, on 28 October last year.

    Two years ago to the day people in the Midlands were hit by an earthquake centred on Warwick - it measured 4.2 on the Richter scale.

    Sudden shockwaves

    The whole length of Wales was shaken and people over 120 miles apart felt two sudden shockwaves

    In south Wales, people in Cardiff, Newport, Caerphilly, the Vale of Glamorgan and as far west as Swansea, felt the powerful shockwaves.

    Callers to the BBC reported doors slamming and windows rattling.

    Many miles further north, in Wrexham, officers from North Wales Police said their control room in a tower block shook violently.

    Richard Flynn, from Oldbury in the West Midlands, said: "The house started shaking quite violently at about 1am. All the power was cut off and seemed to be so for about a five-mile radius.


    My first thought was it's a bomb and then an earthquake

    Birmingham resident Alex
    "The shaking and trembling was really quite severe. Quite a few people came out of their houses wondering what was going on. The streets were in darkness."

    Power was restored after about 20 minutes.

    One Birmingham resident, Alex Potter, told BBC Radio Five Live: "My first thought was it's a bomb and then an earthquake.

    "There was an earthquake in Birmingham back in the fifties when I was a boy but back then the ground swayed. It was quite different this time."

    'No joke'

    He added: "It was really quite frightening. I'm convinced there were two booms - lasting five or six seconds each."

    Bill Wilson, who was duty inspector for Merseyside Police at the time of the tremor, said he took up to 30 calls from people who initially thought there was an intruder in their home or there had been an explosion.

    "I've never had to take calls like this and some people I rang up myself thought I was winding them up but I had to assure them that I was serious."

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