Durban - High-rise buildings in the Durban city centre were evacuated, offices in uMhlanga rattled and students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College campus held on to their desks as the tremor of a 5.5-magnitude earthquake that struck North West province rippled through KZN on Tuesday.
At least one person died and authorities in KZN were placed on high alert following the earthquake, which struck just after midday.
Nomusa Dube-Ncube, the MEC for Co-operative Governance, said: “We have activated all our systems and resources. Our disaster management facilities are monitoring the situation closely and we are ready to intervene in any part of KZN with speed should it become necessary.”
Dube-Ncube said that the eThekwini disaster management centre registered the tremor but no damage had been reported.
In Durban, hundreds of office workers were evacuated from the Sars building in Pixley KaSeme (West) Street, Durban Bay House in Anton Lembede (Smith) Street and the Standard Bank building in Matthews Meyiwa Road (First Avenue) in Greyville.
The tremor was felt on the upper floors of Addington Hospital where nurses and patients felt the building “sway”. The building was not evacuated.
Hayley Going of Glenwood was at her desk in her offices in Armstrong Avenue in La Lucia Ridge when she felt the earth move.
“At first I thought I was about to faint… I stood up quickly and noticed that my computer screen was shaking. I steadied myself on my desk and when I looked up, the standing lamp we have in reception was swinging,” she said.
She said she got up and started screaming for her colleagues.
“I said loudly ‘the building is moving, the building is moving’. My colleague came from another office and she said, ‘Oh my goodness look at the blinds’. All the blinds along our windows were swaying from the tremor.”
She was still feeling the effects of vertigo late on Tuesday afternoon, she said.
Patricia Wright of Umbilo who works in uMhlanga had a similar experience.
“I was busy at my computer, when it felt as though I was having a head rush, or drop in sugar. It felt like the ground was swaying beneath my feet and my desk was wobbling – but it was really only when I noticed the vase of flowers on my desk vibrating that I realised it wasn’t me. It was the earth moving,” she said.
The tremor forced the brief evacuation of students at UKZN’s Shepstone building at the Howard College campus, Lesiba Seshokaa spokesman for the university confirmed.
“It was just for about four minutes or so. Things quickly went back to normal,” he said.
Di McLoughlin who lives near the university could not believe what she was feeling.
“I have been recovering from a bad flu so when it struck I thought it was because of the flu.
“However my three dogs, two labradors and a Jack Russell, felt it too and they bolted straight into the house and that is when I knew it was not my flu but a tremor,” she said.