Magnitude 5.9 earthquake recorded in central Australia - USGS

By Reuters/Jane Wardell, Jim Regan   May 20, 2016 | 05:29 pm PT
A earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9, unusually powerful for Australia, struck the country's desert centre early on Saturday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties from the 10-km-deep quake, which was centred some 460 km (285 miles) west-southwest of the outback town of Alice Springs.

The earthquake, which happened just before 4 a.m. local time in the sparsely populated area of the Northern Territory, was initially recorded at a magnitude of 6.2 before being revised down by USGS.

Geoscience Australia said it could have been felt as far as 507 km from its epicentre, although any damage would be limited to a 40 km radius.

"It occurred in the middle of the desert and as far as we can tell it was far from any community and there have been no reports of injuries or damage," Northern Territory Police duty superintendent Angela Stringer told Reuters.

"From a geological perspective, it's pretty spectacular but we don't see it as anything more than that at this time."

The desert area southwest of Alice Springs and world-famous Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is sparsely populated. The nearest indigenous community settlements were well over 100 km away from the earthquake's epicentre.

The last major tremor recorded in Australia was in 2012 when a 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck in the far north of South Australia state. That quake was the largest recorded in the country in 15 years.

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