Earthquake strikes off Bowen at magnitude 5.8

 Earthquake strikes off Bowen at magnitude 5.8

What we know so far

  • A magnitude 5.8 earthquake hit about 70 kilometres off the coast North-east of Bowen at 2.30pm
  • There have been evacuations in Townsville CBD and at Cairns and Mackay air traffic control towers
  • Cairns airport has reopened
  • There have been no reports of injury or damage
An earthquake of magnitude 5.8 was recorded off the Queensland coast on Thursday.
An earthquake of magnitude 5.8 was recorded off the Queensland coast on Thursday. Photo: Geoscience Australia 

Interview recording captures sound of earthquake

The sound of the quake was also captured during a meeting on the first floor of a three-storey building in the Mackay CBD.

Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson, his chief of staff and corporate communications manager and a reporter from the local newspaper – The Daily Mercury – were discussing rates.

The interview was interrupted by the first tremor, which sounded like “something had hit the building”.

The second one was longer.

“We all looked at each other and said ‘is this what we think it is?”‘ according to the mayor who remarked there was a “whole lot of shaking going on”.

Buildings were evacuated and inspected for structural damage. So far, there is no major damage to report.

Cr Williamson said the quake brought home that Mother Nature should be treated with the utmost respect on all occasions.

“It was an unnerving few seconds,” he said.

What we know so far

– A magnitude 5.8 earthquake hit about 70 kilometres off the coast North-east of Bowen at 2.30pm

– There have been evacuations in Townsville CBD and at Cairns and Mackay air traffic control towers

– Cairns airport has reopened

– There have been no reports of injury or damage

Flights bound for Cairns that were diverted to Townsville have begun reboarding and returning to Cairns.

Airlines are providing very limited information to passengers at this stage.

Aftershocks are likely for some time, with an even bigger shock than today still possible, Geoscience Australia senior seismologist Jonathan Bathgate says.

“We can’t predict what’s coming,” he said.

“We certainly expect more aftershocks.

“Generally the aftershocks tend to be smaller than what we’ve had and they become less frequent and tend to die out over time but it really is quite unpredictable.

“You can get some large earthquakes in amongst that aftershock sequence and it is possible to get an earthquake that was larger than the initial shocks as well.”

There have been six aftershocks in just a little bit more than two hours after the original tremor.

They ranged from magnitude 2.5 to 4.0, Geoscience Australia senior seismologist Jonathan Bathgate said.

“(They were) All offshore in and around where the main shock occurred,” he said.

“These ones don’t seem to be being felt on the coast.”

He said the tremors were felt all the way from the Sunshine Coast north to Cairns

GA figures showed the epicentre was about 70 kilometres from Bowen, slightly further away than the USGS estimate of 54 kilometres.

Strongest quake in almost 100 years

This afternoon’s earthquake is the second strongest ever recorded in Queensland, according to Geoscience Australia data.

Only a magnitude 6.0 quake off the coast of Gladstone in 1918 outranks the earth’s efforts this afternoon.

Those tremors were significantly further offshore but were felt more than 450 kilometres away.

But Queensland is one of the least seismically active states in Australia, meaning today’s quake wouldn’t even rank in the top 10 nationally.

Earthquake strikes off Queensland coast, near Bowen. Only this quake, off Gladstone, was stronger.
Earthquake strikes off Queensland coast, near Bowen. Only this quake, off Gladstone, was stronger. Photo: Geoscience Australia

I see the earth. shake. on CCTV. Batteries tumbling down

The earthquake felt “quite violent” but it was all over in a few seconds, according to Maree Westbury who owns the Westburys Mundingburra IGA with her husband Adam.

She was in the back of the store – in a suburb south-west of Townsville – when the mirror started to sway on the wall and the safe hit the wall.

The earthquake was captured on CCTV, showing aisle three signage and shelves moving plus four products falling to the floor. Coincidentally, a car crashed through the store window and came to a stop in the same aisle earlier this year.

Mrs Westbury said her husband was sitting at a desk when he asked “can everything that?’

The couple immediately realised it was an earthquake. They had experienced one before, living in the NSW city of Newcastle when the quake hit in 1989 resulting in 13 deaths and widespread damage.

“You can feel it in our feet,” she said.

In this case, there was no damage to the store.

Cairns air traffic control tower is back up and running after closing earlier due to safety precautions.

An airport spokesman said she hoped flights would return to normal shortly.

Bradley Jamieson, Graeme Springhetti and Brett Williams are  making the most of their unscheduled stopover in Townsville.

Graeme is meant to be boarding a flight to Thailand tonight.

They were on a flight from Weipa to Cairns that was diverted mid-air to Townsville after the earthquake.

Earthquake strikes off Queensland coast, near Bowen. Bradley Jamieson, Graeme Springhetti and Brett Williams make the ...
Earthquake strikes off Queensland coast, near Bowen. Bradley Jamieson, Graeme Springhetti and Brett Williams make the most of it. Photo: Nathanael Cooper

There are downsides to playing golf in a place as beautiful as this.

Bowen Golf Club employee Margaret Need said workers and members were worried about a tsunami when two-storey timber clubhouse started shaking “violently”.

“It was only for a few seconds and we were more concerned about the ocean,” Ms Need told AAP.

“If the ocean started sucking out we would have started running because we are right on the beachfront. We just watched that for a bit to see if there was any change in the water.

“The club shook violently and it was very scary.”

She said it’s the second earthquake she has experienced during her time working at the Golf club and it was also the most violent.

“We had one about four or five years ago and it was only light, but this shook really badly.”

The Bureau of Meteorology said there was no threat of a tsunami.

Earthquake strikes off Queensland coast, near Bowen. Bowen Golf Club workers and members feared a tsunami.
Earthquake strikes off Queensland coast, near Bowen. Bowen Golf Club workers and members feared a tsunami. Photo: Bowen Golf Club

The quake was felt as far away as Cairns Airport, spokeswoman Helen Laird said.

The airport was closed and the control tower was evacuated as a precaution.

The tower has since been assessed and the airport should be “up and running” again soon.

Joseph Clun, 24,  lives in the centre of Bowen on Poole Street, where he was when he felt the quake.

“It was shaking the house,” he said.

“There was a bit of a rumble, and the house started shaking.

“I thought the washing machine was just going a bit more to start with. It took me a second to realise what it was.”

His fiance, Danielle Sinclair, quickly ran outside because she didn’t know if the house was going to fall in.

“I ran outside because I didn’t know if the house was going to fall in,” he said.

“It happened pretty quickly, I thought a truck might have been going down the road, because the house is on stilts it shakes a bit.

“It’s happened before, but this one was a little bit louder than the last one.”

We’re more than an hour on from the quake and there are still no reports of injury or damage.

Bowen firefighters had a truck driving around town looking for damage but a spokeswoman said they didn’t spot anything.

A Queensland Ambulance Service spokeswoman said she couldn’t see any reports of injury coming in from Bowen or nearby towns.

Bowen Information Centre worker Christin Shorts was sitting in the office when she felt a “little bit of a shake” and heard “rattling all through the building”.

She says the centre is right on the highway so she initially it was caused by a big semi-trailer passing by.

“It lasted a fair while … about 30 seconds,” she said.

She went outside and waiting until the quake was over. It didn’t cause any damage.

It wouldn’t be a Queensland earthquake without the comedians coming out to play now, would it?

Well played Ted Larson, well played. Quick off the mark too, only about 15 minutes after the quake struck. #WeWillRebuild

Evacuations following earthquake

There have been a string of evacuations following the tremors, with air traffic controllers in Cairns and Mackay both ditching their towers as a safety precautions.
Several people were reporting the Cairns airport itself had also been evacuated.
Several businesses in the Townsville CBD were also telling there staff to get out, with large crowds walking around the streets.

Deb in Bowen felt her caravan shake and thought her husband, Barry was messing with her.

“The van was moving for about five seconds,” she told ABC Radio.

ABC Mackay reporter Dan Battley said he felt the shaking in the regional office and initially thought it was trucks rumbling past, before realising it was something more serious.

“I was just sitting here on the phone to a colleague and I felt a little rumble…,” he said.
“Then suddenly it started to really shake and it was one of those shakes where you knew something was going on.

“We weren’t having photos or anything like that coming off the walls but the floor was rumbling and the desk was rumbling and the computer monitors were shaking a fair bit too.

“It was at that point where I looked around and said, ‘yes, we’re having an earthquake’.”

This quake comes just four days after a much smaller tremor hit off the coast of Bundaberg.

That shaking was only magnitude 4.4 and was much further from the coast.

You can read about that incident here.

The quake was very close to the coastline, less than 30 kilometres off Gloucester Island, according to Geoscience Australia mapping.

Queensland police reported being inundated with calls to triple 0 directly after the tremor but had not received any reports of damage.

Reports of tremors have come in from at least as far away as Townsville.

There’s no tsunami threat for the coastline.

Earthquake strikes off Queensland coast, near Bowen.
Earthquake strikes off Queensland coast, near Bowen. Photo: Geoscience Australia

Credit by http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au