Disaster teams out in full after SA quake

WEB_GRAPHIC_Orkney_quake_050814

Graphic showing the epicentre of the magnitude 5.3 earthquake which struck Orkney in the North West, South Africa, at 12:20 CAT on Tuesday, August 5, 2014.

Graphic showing the epicentre of the magnitude 5.3 earthquake which struck Orkney in the North West, South Africa, at 12:20 CAT on Tuesday, August 5, 2014.

WEB_GRAPHIC_Orkney_quake_050814

Graphic showing the epicentre of the magnitude 5.3 earthquake which struck Orkney in the North West, South Africa, at 12:20 CAT on Tuesday, August 5, 2014.

Graphic showing the epicentre of the magnitude 5.3 earthquake which struck Orkney in the North West, South Africa, at 12:20 CAT on Tuesday, August 5, 2014.

JOHANNESBURG -  At 12,22am on Tuesday afternoon an earth quake rattled Johannesburg and other parts of the country. At least one person died.

People evacuated buildings in fright, and many people took to social media to share their experiences.

The US Geological Society – which measures incidents around the world – said the tremor in South Africa measured 5.3 on the Richter scale.

Tweets indicated that the tremor was felt as far away as Durban and Botswana.

Geologist Oliver Barker from Banzi Geotechnic said it was unlikely the tremor was caused by mining activity.

The quake was the largest to hit South Africa in over 40 years after the largest quake in 1969 hit Tulbach, in the Western Cape, measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale.

Johannesburg emergency services spokesman Robert Mulaudzi said the tremor was felt in most parts of the city.

"The city has received no reports of injuries or collapsed buildings. However we will be monitoring the situation."

But in Orkney the situation was different. One man was crushed after a wall fell on him.

ER24 spokesman Werner Vermaak said rescue teams were out and working hard to rescue trapped miners and go through areas where much damage was caused.

Vermaak said ER24 was able to call on other organisations such as Rescue South Africa for assistance, and was therefore able to handle the disaster situation.

“This is not a one-man operation so we need to get people out. There are three sites we are focusing on,” Vermaak said.

He said ER24 had received calls of houses having collapsed at an old mining site. He said no casualties were reported despite the damage, as the houses had been unoccupied.

“But we do have search and rescue teams going through that area to double check that there are no injured people in need of help,” he said.

Vermaak said emergency services at the mines and prototeams were prepared for underground disasters and were handling the situation.

The next danger, he said, was after shocks.

Should there be another bad tremor, people were advised to get outside if possible, or if not, to stand in a doorway were they would be protected by the frame.

“The best is to get to an open area where no debris can fall on you. South Africans are not used to this kind of thing and to hear that it was felt as far as KZN and Botswana is astounding,” said Vermaak.