Maseru earthquake due to ‘earth ripping apart’

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’Mantoetse Maama

Maseru experienced a slight tremor on Tuesday this week at around lunchtime, sparking anxious phone-calls between relatives and colleagues.
However, not many in the city were aware of the quake, which was mostly felt by those in multi-storey buildings in the city centre.

According to a lady whose office is located at the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) Centre along Kingsway, the tremor took place at around 12:55pm and lasted “roughly 10 minutes”.
“I was in my office when the tremor occurred. Initially, I thought the shaking of my desk and the vibration in the office was due to some construction work happening somewhere close-by.
“But when the electricity also suddenly went-off, and I heard people rushing in the corridor shouting that there was an earthquake, I also dashed out of the office and went down to Kingsway.
“The shaking was not that violent, but the incident left me really scared because I have read frightening stories of buildings collapsing and people dying after a big quake has struck,” she said.
“We were pushing each other, fighting to get out of the building. Even now I don’t feel like going back into the building because what if there is an even bigger tremor the next time around? I am going home now and will only come back tomorrow because I don’t feel safe at all.”

Contacted for comment, the Disaster Management Authority Communications Officer, Khopotso Phafoli, said there had been no reports of injuries or destruction of property following the quake.
“The trembling happened in Maseru only, and not in the other districts of the country. However, there were no reports of injuries or destruction of property due to the tremor,” Ms Phafoli said.
Meanwhile, a South African expert says Tuesday’s tremor, which hit most of South Africa and resulted in the death of one person and destruction of property, may have been caused by movements of the earth’s crust in the Rift Valley in Ethiopia.

Herman van Niekerk, a specialist in structural geology in the department of geology at the University of Johannesburg, told South Africa’s Afrikaans daily, Beeld, that the African continent is slowly ripping apart, with a giant tear stretching from the Rift Valley to northern Mozambique.

According to Dr Van Niekerk, these movements place stress on the earth’s crust, which needs to release this pressure somewhere, hence Tuesday’s tremor.
The eastern section of this tear is moving away from the rest of the continent at about 2.5cm per year, and the tear would eventually result in a new tectonic plate and a new continent containing most of Africa’s east coast, known as the Somali plate, a research blog, The Basement Geographer, also noted.

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