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To see this story with its related links on the guardian.co.uk site, go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/27/earthquake
Biggest quake since 1984 hits Britain
James Sturcke, Thair Shaikh and agencies
Wednesday February 27 2008
Britain’s largest earthquake in nearly a quarter of a century has left one person injured and a trail of damage.
The magnitude 5.2 quake hit just before 1am today and was centred near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire. Its effects were felt as far away as Wales, Scotland and London.
Student David Bates, 19, suffered a suspected broken pelvis when he was hit by a falling piece of chimney in his attic bedroom in Wombwell, South Yorkshire, his father, Paul, said.
Paul Bates said he was woken by a deep rumble which was followed by shouts from his son upstairs. He said David was hit by a piece of masonry about 2ft square, which had fallen from the chimney stack.
“This massive piece of stone had landed on his hip and he was just shouting that he thought it was broken and I called an ambulance,” he said. “You just don’t expect it. Of all the things that can happen – an earthquake.”
Emergency services across England received more than 1,000 calls from people who had woken up to find their homes shaking.
Among them North Yorkshire police received nearly 700 calls, Humberside fire service took 200 and Warwickshire police around 250 in the two hours after the tremor.
A spokesman for Humberside fire and rescue service said the most common reports were of damaged chimney stacks, dangerous roofs and garden walls.
The Guardian received calls from startled readers in London, Bedfordshire, Yorkshire, Manchester, Blackpool and Leicester.
The British Geological Survey (BGS) said the centre was five miles east of Market Rasen and 15 miles south-west of Grimsby. “This is a significant earthquake for the UK and will have been widely felt across England and Wales,” said Brian Baptie, a BGS seismologist.
The BGS said more property damage would have occurred had the focus of the earthquake been closer to the surface.
The BGS records around 200 quakes in Britain each year – an eighth of them are large enough to feel. It said there were earthquakes of this size in mainland Britain around every 30 years but they were more common offshore.
Today’s quake is the largest since 1984 when an earthquake of magnitude 5.4 shook the Lleyn Peninsula of north Wales and was widely felt across England and Wales.
Alex Ferrier, 22, a marine biology student from Hull, said: “It was quite scary… we live in a road of large terraced houses and I was woken up and looked out of the window and there were loads of people on the streets.”
Ferrier’s mother, Val, who lives in Manchester, said she was woken when the mirrors on her wardrobe shook violently. “The whole room was shaking for about 20 seconds, it was quite violent. I ran downstairs,” she said.
Geoff Halsey, 62, a salesman from Tingrith in Bedfordshire, said he knew immediately on waking up that it was an earthquake. “I was fast asleep when I felt a whiplash, it was quite violent … lasting a few seconds. The whole house shivered, me and the wife both jumped up. The pheasants started singing and other birds began to sing as well.”
John Jenkin, from Bourne in Lincolnshire, said things fell from his shelves. “I was woken up. It was hell. The police around here suddenly became very busy.”
In London, the quake was felt by reporters in parliament. The Dudley area of the West Midlands had an earthquake in 2002 that reached magnitude 5.0 and damaged homes.
The last one in the UK was a 2.9 tremor in Wales in November. In April 2007, Kent had a similar event, and people in five streets of Folkestone had to be evacuated because of damage to buildings.
Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited 2008
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