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 Kent hit by earthquake

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Murphy041270
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PostSubject: Kent hit by earthquake   Sat Apr 28, 2007 3:49 pm

HOMES were evacuated after parts of Kent were hit by an earthquake today.

The tremor - measuring an estimated 4.3 on the Richter scale - struck just after 8.15am today and people across the county reported that the ground and their properties shook and there was damage to some buildings.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service said it had taken more than a 100 emergency calls and was dealing with “several incidents”.

A spokesman said: “We have had calls from people saying their chimneys have fallen down, large cracks in people’s houses."

Electricity and gas supplies to houses in some parts of Kent were cut off.

The emergency services were inundated with calls from concerned householders and fire crews attended a number of incidents.

The earthquake was concentrated around the Folkestone area, but people in parts of East Sussex, Essex and Suffolk are also reported to have felt the tremor.

There were immediate fears of an after shock, but these proved unfounded.

British Geological Survey seismologist Roger Musson said estimates had been revised and the tremor, originally thought to be 4.7, was 4.3 on the Richter scale, with an epicentre 7.5 miles off the Dover coast.

That meant it could be weakly perceptible as far as London, he said, adding that there was also a report of water sloshing out of a fish tank in a village near Canterbury.

“This is by no means a complete surprise,” he said. “There have been earthquakes in this location before.

“Two of them have been some of the biggest earthquakes ever to affect Britain.”

The first was in 1382 and in 1580 a quake with a magnitude of about six killed two people in London.

There were also smaller tremors in 1776 and 1950 in the area, which were in the “low fours” and on a similar scale to the one today.

“It was a matter of time before we had another earthquake here,” Mr Musson said.

Sharon Hayles, who lives in the village of Stanford near the Eurotunnel at Folkestone, said her house slid from side to side for about 10 to 15 seconds but escaped damage.

Mrs Hayles, who was sitting in her living room with her husband Martin, said: “We were looking at each other in amazement - you don’t expect to feel a tremor that size here.

“It literally felt like the whole house was being slid across like a funfair ride.

“We did expect to see some kind of damage, because we have a quite a large house and it was shifting under our feet. It was horrible.”

Hendrick van Eck, 27, who lives in Canterbury, said: “I was lying in bed and it felt as if someone had just got up from bed next to me.

“I then heard the sound of cracking, and it was getting heavier and heavier.

"It felt as if someone was at the end of my bed hopping up and down.

“I thought ‘that must have been earthquake’. It didn’t last very long, just a matter of seconds.”

Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP for the South East of England, who lives in Folkestone, said he went outside and saw a mass of people standing in the street wondering “what on earth had happened”.

He described events as “dramatic” and added it as “really quite an extraordinary experience”.

“At first I thought a lorry had crashed into the back of our house, but having lived in New Zealand I soon realised what it was.

“The entire house shook. It was quite frightening and I am astonished here is no damage to our house.

“Emergency services were extremely fast to respond, but it seemed they were rushing around not quite knowing where to go."

Another eyewitness, Scott Kanaway, said: “The whole ground just shook, like something you see in a film.”

The Rev Sean Carter said: “The house started to shake for about 10 seconds and I had to hold on to the wall.”

Lorraine Muir said chimneys had come down, gas and electricity supplies were off and people were being evacuated from their homes and were being looked after by the Salvation Army.

“It’s chaos up here at the moment,” she said.

The mother-of-four said she was in bed when the earthquake struck.

“I was very, very frightened, I’m still shaking a bit now.”

Kent Fire and Rescue Service said most emergency calls it had received involved reports of structural damage to buildings, but a fire engine had also been sent to Folkestone to investigate a “smell of gas”.

A spokesman said: “Six appliances and a height vehicle were sent to Pavilion Road in Folkestone after reports of structural damage to a building.

“Three appliances and a specialist team from KFRS’s Urban Search and Rescue unit were called to Radnor Park Crescent after reports that a person was trapped under a collapsed building but all persons are now accounted for.

“One appliance has been sent to Penfold Road after reports of a smell of gas and officers are also checking two incidents of chimneys being left in a dangerous position.”

He added that the first call was received at 8:19am and the control room had since taken more than 100 emergency calls.

A spokesman for Eurotunnel said everything was “running normally” with the Channel Tunnel, which runs close to Folkestone.

“As far as we are concerned, it has had no effect on services,” he said.

He added: “We have felt the earth tremors but the system is running as per normal.”

EDF Energy, which supplies electricity to people in the Dover and Folkestone area, said several thousand customers had lost power due to the earthquake.

A spokeswoman said: “Several thousand customers in the Folkestone and Dover areas of Kent experienced an interruption to power supply at 8.21am this morning.

“EDF Energy Networks engineers are on site and we are working to ascertain the scale of the incident and restore power supply.

“We would like to reassure customers that we are working as quickly as possible and apologise for any inconvenience this is causing.”

Were you in Kent at the time? Tell us your experiences by clicking on Have Your Say below.

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