Hong Kong feels another quake from Guangdong's shaky city, Heyuan

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 February, 2013, 5:12am

Thousands of Hongkongers on Friday called the Hong Kong Observatory after a magnitude 4.8 earthquake 180 kilometres away was felt in the city.

Anxious residents reported by phone and online that they felt buildings shaking, objects swinging and chairs moving for a few seconds.

The quake struck Dongyuan county in Heyuan, northeast of Hong Kong, at about 11.30am.

There were no reports by last night of casualties or damage even though the quake was felt in many cities across Guangdong and in neighbouring Fujian province .

In Hong Kong the tremor registered 3 on the 12-level modified Mercali scale. At that intensity, it would feel like vibrations from a small truck passing nearby.

The public needn't worry as mild quakes are quite common in southern China

Observatory scientific officer Leung Yin-kong said the public need not worry about quakes of that magnitude, which were not uncommon in the region.

Guangdong seismologists said the quake was quite shallow, at a depth of about 11 kilometres, which explained why it was felt across a wide region.

It was the fourth tremor originating in Heyuan, a city of more than 200,000 residents covering an area of 15,500 square kilometres, in the past 12 months. The last one, of magnitude 3.7, was on September 2.

Professor Chan Lung-sang, from the University of Hong Kong's department of earth sciences, said the recent quakes in Heyuan were not a sign of increasing seismic activity. He said all of southern China was influenced by tectonic plate movements in Taiwan and Philippines, and Heyuan was more prone to quakes because of its proximity to the huge Xinfengjiang freshwater reservoir

Chan said such a large man-made body of water would cause underground pressure that might lead to occasional quakes.

"The public needn't worry as mild quakes are quite common in southern China," Chan said.

Hong Kong has felt 62 tremors, including yesterday's, Since 1979. Of these, 12 originated in Heyuan.