Orkney, North West - An aftershock hit the township of Khuma, near Orkney in the North West on Tuesday evening, which was the epicentre of an earlier 5.5 magnitude earthquake.

People gathered outside one of the houses that was destroyed during the quake and screamed as the ground shook.

Emergency personnel who were removing belongings from the house evacuated the yard.

Residents lined the streets of the township to assess the damages to their homes.

North West premier Supra Mahumapelo said earlier that at least 400 houses in the area had been damaged in the earthquake.

“We have heard of 400 houses that have been affected in the area,” he said.

The earthquake was felt in most parts of the country.

Mahumapelo said other parts of the North West were also affected but Khuma was the hardest hit.

“The preliminary report is that the problem is bigger in Matlosana,” he said.

Mahumapelo said he was in a meeting in Mahikeng when the earthquake struck and buildings had to be evacuated. Upon hearing of the destruction, he rushed to the area to see first hand the kind of damage caused.

He said it was the responsibility of government to assist those affected.

“It is the responsibility of government to make sure we take care of our people. I have spoken to the Matlosana municipality along with the provincial departments of safety, local government and finances to see how best the people can be assisted,” he said.

Mahumapelo met two women whose houses were destroyed and assured them that government would provide a place of safety for them and their families to sleep for the night.

He told Mamosa Melato, who was inside her house when parts of it collapsed, that a plan would be made regarding how best to rebuild their lives and houses.

Melato said she and her husband were both unemployed and could not afford to rebuild their house.