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Sleepers shaken by Kent earthquake

Published 22/05/2015

A British Geological Survey seismogram records an earthquake
A British Geological Survey seismogram records an earthquake

An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.2 shook windows and caused walls to creak when it struck in the middle of the night in Kent.

No injuries or damage to buildings were reported following the tremor four miles (7km) south of Ramsgate at 2.52am, Kent Police said.

Locals reported books being shaken from shelves and described the earthquake as feeling like a vehicle had been driven into their property.

One thought their hotel door was being kicked in, another described their house creaking, while a third said the tremor sounded like a "heavy object rolling over the roof of the house".

More than 800 "felt reports" were received by the British Geological Survey (BGS), mainly from residents in Ramsgate, Margate and surrounding areas.

But the BGS said reports of the earthquake were also received from as far afield as Norwich, North Walsham and Cromer in East Anglia.

In Ramsgate, Muni Prasad, 42, said: "We were woken up suddenly. For a few seconds the property was moving. In my daughter's room, books had fallen down.

"She came to our room and said 'Did you feel it?'. And we said we had. We are on the second floor so when a big vehicle goes by, we sometimes feel it. But with this my wife said it felt like something different."

Bob Fludgate said: "I was woken up in the early hours as if a lorry had hit the house. I'm quite a deep sleeper, too.

"I woke up, nothing had happened so I went back to sleep. It just cleared."

Sarah Luddington said: "I was in bed and I went downstairs because I thought something had smashed into the house, like a car or something.

"It was awful but there was no damage. I could feel everything shaking. Everyone else was asleep, it was just me. It was scary."

Sarah Coleman said: "I slept through it and I heard about it on the news this morning. I thought 'an earthquake' and I hadn't heard nothing.

"I went on Facebook and it was all on there. The boyfriend's family said that the bed shook and they wondered what it was. My daughter felt it as well. She said her bed shook."

Kent has been at the centre of tremors before. In April 2007, a magnitude 4.3 earthquake hit Folkestone, causing cracked walls and fallen chimneys at dozens of buildings.

The British Geological Survey said earthquakes similar in size to the one that struck this morning happen around every two years in the UK and about 4,500 times a year across the world.

It said: "Today's 4.2 magnitude Ramsgate earthquake is approx 260,000 times smaller than the 7.8 Nepal Quake event.

"This morning's earthquake is approx 25km (15 miles) north east of the April 28 2007 Folkestone earthquake which had a magnitude of 4.3 ML."

Some Twitter users made light of the quake, jokingly posting "devastating scenes" of overturned wheelie bins and garden furniture with messages such as "We will rebuild".

Experts said it was difficult to link the earthquake to a specific fault line.

David Galloway, a seismologist with the BGS, said: "The whole of the UK is criss-crossed by thousands of fault lines but most of them are at depth.

"This means we do not pinpoint a specific earthquake to a specific fault because even if a location is a few hundred metres off it could have been a completely different fault.

"Fortunately we do not live on the plate edges - for example, the San Andreas fault in California can actually be seen at the surface, but the faults in the UK are blind and most earthquakes happen at a depth of between 5km (three miles) and 25km.

"Earthquakes happen all over the UK - we get some 200 a year on average. One of the scale of this morning's only happen every two or three years."

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