MELBOURNE, Australia — A magnitude 5.9 earthquake hit southeast Australia on Wednesday morning, damaging buildings and forcing hospitals to evacuate staff members and patients. It was an unusually large quake in a country less susceptible to major temblors than neighboring countries.
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.
It was the largest onshore earthquake in the state of Victoria in recorded history, according to Adam Pascale, chief scientist at the Seismology Research Center. And it was the largest land earthquake in the country since 2016, when a 6.1-magnitude temblor hit the Northern Territory, according to Geoscience Australia.
The quake on Wednesday collapsed the walls of buildings in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city and the capital of Victoria. It forced residents to flee apartments, shattered windows, left cracks in roads and led to power outages.
Photos and videos shared widely on social media show a damaged building in Melbourne, with bricks spewed across the street.
The quake, initially rated magnitude 5.8, was later upgraded. It hit around 9:15 a.m. and was felt as far away as South Australia, where a hospital evacuated staff members and patients; in New South Wales, where businesses also evacuated; and in the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania.
Two smaller quakes were recorded at 9:30 a.m. and 9:54 a.m., the geosciences agency said. The epicenter was in Mansfield, a regional town in the state of Victoria about 81 miles from Melbourne, the state capital.
Small earthquakes are not unusual in Australia, said Chris Elders, a structural geology expert at
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