20 Jun 2012

Quake shakes southern Victoria

6:30 am on 20 June 2012

A 5.3 magnitude earthquake has struck the Australian state of Victoria, rattling Melbourne and causing damage to homes in the region.

The quake hit just before 9pm on Tuesday with the epicentre near Moe in west Gippsland, about 120 kilometres south-east of Melbourne, and was at a depth of about 10km, Geoscience Australia said.

The ABC reports that the tremor rumbled through Melbourne and communities including Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong and Shepparton.

People told the broadcaster that they heard a roaring noise, and there were reports of cracks occurring in the walls and floors of homes.

Victoria Police said they had received a number of calls in relation to the tremor though no reports of major damage.

The Federal Minister responsible for insurance, Bill Shorten, told the ABC he understood it was the biggest earthquake in the area in 109 years.

The Victorian State Emergency Service (SES) said it received 40 requests for assistance in the broader Gippsland area and parts of Melbourne.

A spokesperson said most calls for help came from areas near the epicentre and seem to be minor house damage such as cracked walls and ceilings and a garage collapse. Some incidences of gas leaks had also been reported.