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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 April 2007, 08:12 GMT 09:12 UK
Earthquake town assesses damage
Woman walks past earthquake damage
Checking the damage will take days
Hundreds of people in Kent are assessing the damage done to homes and businesses by an earthquake.

Homes in Folkestone were evacuated and one woman suffered a neck injury when the 4.3 magnitude tremor struck on Saturday morning.

Several families spent the night in emergency accommodation and police said 38 homes had been assessed so far.

Salvation Army minister Captain Peter West said some were worried about ever being able to return to their homes.

Surveys on another 80 buildings in Folkestone would be completed before tomorrow, added police.

Street scene
Some families have been unable to return home

Shepway District Council said two large families and several other families were being accommodated last night at the authority's emergency centre.

More than a dozen people spent the night at Folkestone's Salvation Army centre.

Capt West said that when the earthquake had first happened, the people arriving at the Salvation Army centre in Folkestone had looked "quite shaken, confused, anxious".

He said: "The ones we've got here now are the ones who can't be allowed back in their homes, maybe their homes are too badly damaged and are thinking maybe they'll never be able to go back to them."

Council spokesman Jeff Stack said it would take days just for the initial analysis of homes to be carried out.

Following the earthquake homes in five streets in the town were evacuated because of structural damage including cracked walls and fallen chimneys.

The tremor struck at 0819 BST and experts said its epicentre was 7.5 miles off the Dover coast in the English Channel.

QUAKES IN THE UK
December 2006 - Dumfries and Galloway (magnitude 3.5)
September 2002 - Dudley, West Midlands (5.0)
October 2001 - Melton Mowbray (4.1)
September 2000 - Warwick (4.2)
April 1990 - Bishop's Castle, Shropshire (5.1)
July 1984 - Nefyn, north Wales (5.4)
June 1931 - in North Sea near Great Yarmouth (6.1)

Kent Fire and Rescue Service took more than 200 emergency calls, from people concerned about a variety of issues ranging from structural damage to gas smells.

The Kent incident is the largest recorded in Britain since an earthquake in Dudley in 2002.

British Geological Survey (BGS) seismologist Roger Musson said the quake was "by no means a complete surprise".

"There have been earthquakes in this location before."

He said the first was in 1382 and in 1580 a quake with a magnitude of about six killed two people in London.

Police want owners of local businesses which were empty over the weekend to check their premises for signs of damage.

The BGS is keen for anyone who felt the earthquake to fill in a questionnaire on their website so they can collect information on the impact of the earthquake to analyse in more detail its strength and precise location.

Meanwhile, beach huts in Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire, were cleared after a crack hundreds of metres long appeared in the coastal cliff.

The Marine and Coastguard Agency said the 15cm (6in) wide crack that appeared about 240km (150 miles) away from Folkestone could have been triggered by the quake but Hampshire Police said there was not thought to be a link.




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