There was a lot of excitement in and around South Africa on Tuesday 5 August 2014, as some residents in Johannesburg experienced a massive earth tremor that shook the area and surrounding areas and was also felt in neighboring countries.
The tremor, which, according to the United States Geological Services, measured 5.3 on the Richter scale, was felt at about 12:22 p.m. local time. However, there has been a constant stream of reports on the amount of damage it appears to have caused. Based on the postings on Twitter and other social media platforms, the earth quake was felt in central Johannesburg, Boksburg, Pretoria, Rosebank and Fourways. There are also some reports coming from as far afield as Mozambique and Botswana, who also reported feeling the tremor.
The USGS, a grouping of geoscientists who monitor and keep track of earthquakes worldwide, also provided the information that the epicenter of this particular quake was on the boundary of the North-West Province and the Free State province. This is about six kilometers east of the small town of Orkney, an area that is littered with gold mines of South Africa. They further posit that the epicenter was about ten kilometers underground. According to one miner who claims to have lived and worked in the mines for thirty five years, there were two sets of tremors which were set about twenty minutes apart. He hastens to add that this is the worst thing he has ever seen in his career as a miner.
The quake, however, seems to have had very little impact on the mines as reports that came later in the day indicate that there does not seem to be any workers that were trapped in any of the mines. The only fatality that has been reported is that of a man in the mining village of Orkney, where a thirty one year old man was found dead in a house that collapsed on him following the tremor. According to the ER24, when the emergency services arrived on the scene, there was nothing that could be done to assist him. They further confirmed that no miners were trapped underground. In the same area, however, another man was rescued from similar circumstances when the old house in which he was collapsed. The municipality emergency services who quickly rushed to the house were able to get him to a place of safety. The man apparently only suffered minor bruises.
The earth quake that affected the central parts of South Africa is the biggest in Southern Africa since the one that affected Zimbabwe in 2006, which measured 7.0 on the Richter Scale. It also comes against the backdrop of the one that affected China in recent days, which has resulted in the death of hundreds and the displacement of thousands more.