Sep 22, 2021 - Science

Rare magnitude 5.9 earthquake shakes buildings across Australia

 Residents and media gather near a damaged building in the popular shopping Chappel Street in Melbourne on September 22, 2021, after a 5.9 magnitude earthquake.

People gather near a building damaged by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in central Melbourne, Australia, on Wednesday. Photo: William West/AFP via Getty Images

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck northeast of Melbourne, Australia, on Wednesday, causing buildings to shake over 300 miles away in the national capital, Canberra, per the Canberra Times.

Why it matters: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison noted at a briefing that earthquakes are "very rare events in Australia." It was one of seven quakes to strike the state of Victoria Wednesday, with tremors felt across four states, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation notes.

  • The magnitude 5.9 quake that struck Mansfield, a town of fewer than 4,000 people in northeastern Victoria, was more powerful than Australia's deadliest tremor — a magnitude 5.6 earthquake that hit Newcastle, New South Wales, which left 13 people dead in 1989.
  • Wednesday's big quake was even felt some 500 miles away on the island state of Tasmania.

Details: Morrison said at his briefing in New York City, where he's attending the UN General Assembly, that there were no immediate reports of injuries.

  • But the quake caused damage to buildings in and around Mansfield and also in Victoria's capital, Melbourne, about 110 miles away.
  • Officials warned there could be more aftershocks to come.
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