ABC News report : Victorian authorities say there is a chance of “significant aftershocks” in the upcoming weeks and months after the state was rocked by the largest earthquake in its history.
Geoscience Australia said the first earthquake was detected in the Alpine National Park south-east of Mansfield and north of Rawson around 9:15am and was 10 kilometres deep.
It also says the quake is one of the largest earthquakes in eastern Australia since European settlement.
The initial quake was followed by six aftershocks, with magnitudes of 3.5, 4.1, 2.5, 3.1, 2.4, 2.9, according to Tim Wiebusch, chief officer of operations Victoria’s State Emergency Service.
“Earthquakes are one of those emergencies or hazards that you can’t predict,” he said.
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the state was likely to see aftershocks in the weeks and even months ahead.
“There is still the chance of significant aftershocks to impact Victoria,” he said, but he added they were unlikely to exceed the magnitude-5.9 quake.
Mr Wiebusch said there were 100 requests for assistance, around 55 of them in metropolitan Melbourne, and that most of the minor structural damage was to chimneys and facades.
He said it was fortunate the epicentre was in a less populated regional area.
“If that had occurred and in one of the more urban and populated areas, we could be seeing quite a different result,” he said.
Acting Premier James Merlino said buildings had been damaged in the Mansfield township, but that there were “no reports of injury at this stage”.
Mr Merlino said helicopters had been sent to the area to check for damage and a statewide Watch and Act warning was in place for Victoria.
He said minor building damage was recorded across the state, including in the Melbourne suburbs of Kensington, Ascot Vale, Parkdale, Prahran, Balwyn, Elsternwick, Northcote and West Melbourne.
Mr Merlino said most of the power outages in metropolitan Melbourne had been resolved and Beechworth hospital had been able to switch to backup generators when it lost power this morning.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, speaking earlier from the United States, said the earthquake was “very disturbing” and distressing and the federal government stood ready to support Victorians as required in the response.
The initial quake was felt 190 kilometres away in Melbourne as well as in regional Victoria, Sydney, regional New South Wales, the ACT, Adelaide and Launceston in Tasmania.
In Wagga Wagga, one resident told the ABC their six-storey building swayed from side to side when the earthquake hit.
Others described things flying from shelves or tables indoors.
Apartment buildings were evacuated in inner-Melbourne, where damage to streets and roads was being posted to social media.
“We ran downstairs to the shop, it was really, really scary down there. The windows were buckling.
“I was very scared. I just thought, oh my God, is this place going to fall down?”
Ms McGregor said she had not heard reports of anyone with any injuries.
Despite the shaking, she said the shop did not sustain too much damage, with only a few unbreakable items off the shelves.
Mansfield mother Rebecca Dingemans said she was cooking with her young daughter, Summer, at her feet when the quake struck, almost toppling a bookcase.
“That was quite violently shaking back and forth and I could see stuff that was going to fall off it. I’m in a panic thinking, what am I meant to do? Like, don’t save that stuff, just save your own kid,” she said.
Ms Dingemans said she had been ready to run outside with her daughter when she felt the aftershocks.
Cupboard a refuge as region shook violently
Daryl Horwood, who lives at Kevington, about 6km from Mansfield, took refuge in a cupboard as the quake hit.
“I was literally getting dressed after a shower and the house started to shake quite violently,” he said.
“I got a bit worried so I went into one of the clothes cupboards and thought that might be the best place to stay for a little while.
“I thought, ‘Well a doorway is pretty good, but the cupboard could be better’.
“It seemed quite a long time.”
Best thing to do in an earthquake – drop, cover and hold on
Geoscience Australia senior seismologist Trevor Allen said the official advice when someone was in an earthquake was to “drop, cover and hold on”.
“When you do feel the ground start to shake, and you recognise it is an earthquake, it’s best to drop to the ground, cover under a sturdy desk or table and hold on until the shaking stops,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.