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Britain rattled by rare earthquake

An earthquake struck Britain early Wednesday and was felt across large parts of the country. Police reported some minor damage to homes but no injuries.
Image: Kleber Afonso in his earthquke damaged bedroom in northern England.
Kleber Afonso stands in his bedroom, which was damaged during an earthquake, in Barnsley, northern England, on Wednesday.Nigel Roddis / Reuters
/ Source: Reuters

An earthquake struck Britain early Wednesday and was felt across large parts of the country. Police reported some minor damage to homes but no injuries.

The British Geological Survey said it was a 5.3-magnitude quake but the U.S. Geological Survey earlier put the magnitude at 4.7. The temblor struck at about 1 a.m. and was centered about 125 miles north of London.

“It was scary,” David Somerset told The Associated Press by telephone from Driffield, around 60 miles from the epicenter. He was working on the computer at the time.

“It was a strange sensation as the room, ornaments and chest of drawers started wobbling and making a loud rumbling noise,” he said.

Many other people in southern, central and northern England reported feeling their homes shaken by the earthquake in a country where such tremors are uncommon.

Lincolnshire police said they had received dozens of phone calls about the temblor and that some minor damage to homes had been reported.

“This is a moderate earthquake,” Rafael Abreu of the U.S. Geological Survey told Sky News from the United States.

He described the tremor as a shallow interplate earthquake, and said his U.S.-based group would likely adopt the 5.3-magnitude rating from his British counterparts.

The epicenter was reported to be in Market Rasen in Licolnshire, a small market town known for its racecourse.

“I was in bed at the time and suddenly there was quite a big bang and shaking that woke us up,” said Laura Bocock, who lives close to Market Rasen in northeast England. “It sounded like someone had hit the bungalow and (I) was quite frightened.

“I couldn’t get back to sleep because I was scared it could happen again.”

The North West Ambulance service said its crews had also reported feeling the quake but had received “no actual calls from the public,” said a spokeswoman, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the service’s policy.

John Jenkin of Bourne said the jolt knocked objects from the shelves of his home.

“I was woken up. It was hell,” he said.

A woman in Notting Hill, a wealthy section of London, reported that her radio was bumping up and down on a shelf for several seconds.

A quake of magnitude 5 is capable of causing considerable damage. Britain is hit annually with up to 200 quakes but only 10 percent are strong enough to be felt.