MELBOURNE, Australia — An earthquake of 5.8 magnitude hit southeast Australia on Wednesday morning, collapsing the walls of buildings in Melbourne, shattering windows and leaving cracks in the roads.
There were no immediate reports of serious injuries or deaths, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at a news conference from New York, where he was attending the U.N. General Assembly. But residents reported power outages, and apartment buildings in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, were evacuated.
It was the largest land earthquake to rattle the country since 2016, when a 6.1-magnitude quake hit the Northern Territory, according to information from Geoscience Australia. The epicenter of the quake on Wednesday was in Mansfield, a regional town in the state of Victoria about 81 miles from Melbourne, the state capital.
The quake, which hit around 9:15 a.m., was felt in other parts of Victoria and in the states of New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and Tasmania. Two smaller quakes were recorded at 9:30 a.m. and 9:54 a.m., the geosciences agency said.
It came after months of Covid lockdowns and days of violent protests against vaccine mandates had left residents of Melbourne stressed and fatigued.
Photos and videos shared widely on social media show damaged buildings, with bricks and stones spewed across the streets.
In 1997, a 6.2-magnitude quake hit Western Australia. In 1989, an earthquake of 5.5 magnitude killed at least 11 people and injured more than 120 in Newcastle, a city about 75 miles north of Sydney. The damage was estimated at $1 billion.
“It can be a very, very disturbing event for an earthquake of this nature,” Mr. Morrison said from the United States. “They are very rare events in Australia, and I’m sure as a result people would have been quite distressed or disturbed by that.”
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