08 September 2020

Residents panic as 3.3-magnitude earthquake shakes houses in southern England

A 3.3-magnitude earthquake was felt in parts of southern England on Tuesday morning, with witnesses describing houses shaking as if there had been ‘an explosion’.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) said it is investigating reports of an earthquake in Bedfordshire.

Initial data on the BGS site suggested the quake was felt in the region of Leighton Buzzard at around 8.45am and was magnitude 3.3 at a depth of 6.2 miles (10km).

Local police said they were taking a ‘large’ number of calls from concerned members of the public.

Witnesses told PA news agency they felt ‘strong’ shaking during the tremor.

Usha Chapman, from Luton, said: “I was on a video call with my mum when I felt a sideways push. The door rattled and the TV fixed to the wall also rattled.

“It lasted for five seconds.”

Head of seismology at BGS Dr Brian Baptie told the BBC that the UK only gets around one earthquake each year of such a size, but rarely in the Bedfordshire area.

He said: “Leighton Buzzard is not an area that has been known for earthquakes in the past.

“There have been a few historically nearby. There was a magnitude 3 near Oxford in 1986 and then you have to go back to the 18th century to look at Oxford in 1764 for another event of that size.

“Most of the earthquake areas in the UK are a little bit further north, or west, or down in the Dover Strait area.”

Bedfordshire Police said no injuries had been reported.

The force said in a tweet: “Our control room are currently experiencing a large number of calls due to an earthquake which was felt across the county. We have currently received no reports of any injuries or major structural damage.”

One person in Aylesbury wrote online that their house shook ‘as if it was hit by a vehicle’.

Another, from Dacorum in Hertfordshire, said: “Short quick quiet boom like an explosion.”

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