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Tremors rock SA as Victoria hit by biggest recorded earthquake

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Tremors from a magnitude 5.8 earthquake which hit Victoria this morning also shook parts of Adelaide and forced the evacuation of CBD buildings and a part of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

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The earthquake struck at around 8.45 local time (9.15 AEST) and centred at Mansfield, a town on the foothills of Victoria’s alps about 800km from Adelaide.

Seismology Research Centre Chief Scientist Adam Pascale said that “a magnitude 5.8 makes this the largest onshore earthquake in Victoria in recorded history”.

Tremors from the aftershocks of the main quake were felt across Victoria, South Australia, the ACT and New South Wales, with a second quake that registered at magnitude 4 on the Richter scale hitting Mansfield about 15 minutes later.

The quakes caused structural damage to buildings across Victoria, but the State Emergency Service is yet to make an assessment of the damage.

SA Police are yet to report any local damage or injuries, but South Australians took to social media reporting they had felt tremors and posted videos of office towers in the CBD visibly shaking.

SA Health said some patients and staff were evacuated from one area of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at Woodville as a precaution following this morning’s tremor.

In a statement, it said engineering services assessed the building for safety and all patients and staff who were evacuated are now back in the hospital.

SA Health’s administrative headquarters at Hindmarsh Square was also evacuated.

People were evacuated from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital this morning. Photo: Elise Graham/InDaily

Adelaide University evacuated students and staff from its Schultz, Napier, Nexus 19 and North Terrace buildings and said they would remain closed until assessed by engineers.

“We are working to relocate classes scheduled today in the affected buildings,” the university said in an email.

“Non-teaching staff in these buildings are encouraged to work from home for the rest of the day if they are able to.”

Premier Steven Marshall said the tremors felt in Adelaide were from the aftershocks of the main quake to hit Mansfield.

“We’ve been feeling some of the aftershocks of that here in Adelaide [and] in South Australia this morning,” he said.

“I’ve had word from the police commissioner [Grant Stevens] that this is an aftershock from the main quake centred around Mansfield in country Victoria.

“There’s no report of building damage in South Australia but it’s also likely there could be further tremors for the remainder of the day.”

In Melbourne, damage was reported across the suburbs of Prahran, Brunswick, West Melbourne and Albert Park, with the building housing Betty’s Burgers on Chapel Street in Windsor sustaining significant damage.

Betty’s Burgers in Melbourne’s Windsor was severely damaged by the earthquake. Photo: Paul Hamra/InDaily

No one was inside the business at the time.

“We’re out for months, it’s structural, it looks like the top’s come away, we need to get engineers in to assess it and then the works will need to be completed,” restaurant managing director Troy McDonagh said.

Kim, who was working in the kitchen at Nguyen’s Hot Bread in Windsor, opposite Betty’s Burger, said it was a scary situation.

“It was very loud, I thought the building had collapsed, so I came outside and I saw smoke everywhere and luckily no one was under the building,” she said.

Lynne Myers of High County Apparel in Mansfield said “it just scared the hell out of us.”

“Everything shook, the roof shook, boots fell off the shelf and I just ran outside,” she said.

“There’s no cracks or anything in the walls. We seem to have got over it pretty well. Everyone’s a bit shaken up here but there doesn’t seem to be any damage.

“I’ve lived here 29 years and have never felt anything like it.”

Mansfield Shire Councillor Mark Holcombe said he lived in the area for 20 years but had never experienced an earthquake. He said it “came out of left field”.

“It was really strong. I was sitting down at work at my desk and I needed to run outside, it took me a while to work out what it was,” he told ABC television.

“I have been in earthquakes overseas before and it seemed to go on longer than I have experienced before.

“The other thing that surprised me was how noisy it was. It was a real rumbling like a truck going past.”

ABC News Breakfast was live on air when the tremor hit, with presenter Michael Rowland describing it as a “big one”.

Tremors were also felt as far away as the NSW central coast, nearly 1000km from Melbourne.

New South Wales fire and rescue crews were dispatched across Sydney, Wollongong and in regional parts of the state following calls from distressed residents.

Speaking from Washington DC, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters that he had spoken to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce following the earthquake.

He said the Federal Government would provide “whatever assistance is needed whether from the ADF (Australian Defence Force) or others”.

“I can be a very disturbing event for an earthquake of this nature,” he said.

“They are very rare events in Australia and as a result I’m sure people would have been quire distressed and disturbed by that, particularly in the most immediate area affected.

“The agencies at the state government level are there responding and, of course, the Federal Government will provide the support that is necessary and will be in touch further with the Premier, I suspect, throughout the night.”

The earthquake was originally recorded as a magnitude 6 but was later revised to 5.8 on the Richter scale.

– with AAP

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