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'It sounded like thunder' say Black Country residents shaken by earthquake

People from across the Black Country have described hearing cracks, bangs and rumbling noises when a 2.8 magnitude earthquake hit the region.

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The epicentre was in Andrew Road, next to the M5 in West Bromwich. Photo: Google

The seismic activity hit the region at 11pm on Monday night and was felt across large parts of the West Midlands.

According to the British Geological Survey (BGS), the epicentre of the earthquake was in Andrew Road in West Bromwich, next to the M5 and near the border of Sandwell and Walsall.

However residents from across the four Black Country boroughs, Birmingham and as far away as Lichfield all reported hearing a "loud bang" as the earthquake hit.

At the heart of the quake in Andrew Road it sounded like thunder was hitting rather than an earthquake.

Reporter Eleanor Lawson, who lives in the street, explained: "We were at the epicentre of the earthquake and were still awake when it happened.

"I'm surprised we were so close because the noise sounded distant. If we'd have been asleep, I don't think it would have woken us up.

"There was an unmistakeable loud rumbling that echoed through the room. I assumed it was thunder, until I checked online.

"I was reading an article about Russia and Ukraine at the time of the earthquake, which gave me a momentary scare."

Gloria Barnsley and husband Roger, both in their early 70s, were relaxing at home in Prestwood near Kinver when they heard a loud noise.

Mrs Barnsley, who was watching Gogglebox when the earthquake happened, said: "My husband and I were watching TV and because we live near woodlands, we looked at one another and thought 'what's going on?'

"We've got lots of trees coming down and it was like a tree had come down and then bounced. We heard it before and tried to guess how long ago it was, not knowing it was so long ago (the Dudley earthquake in 2000).

"We really thought it was trees because of the problems with the storms across the UK. We thought at the time we're not going to investigate because we're OK, the house is OK, and everything seemed fine."

Over in the Dudley borough, Mark Andrews was reading a newspaper in his chair when he heard a "cracking" and "rumbling" noise. Initially he thought the "house was going to come down" but then realised it didn't compare to previous earthquakes in the area.

The BGS said the quake had a depth of 4.3 miles (7km) and that the effects were felt in a 12.4-mile (20km) radius from its epicentre, with tremors detected by residents in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Dudley.

Back in September 2002, a tremor with a force of 5.0 on the Richter scale rocked the region with the epicentre at the junction of High Arcal Road and Himley Road in Himley, near Dudley.

And in 1984, a quake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale shook the region, with an epicentre over in the Llyn Peninsula in Wales.

David Galloway, from the BGS, said: "It's not unusual – we record 250 or so earthquakes over the UK on average and most of them go unnoticed. We get ones of this size around 12 to 15 times a year, but most of them happen in unpopulated areas and Walsall, Birmingham and the Black Country are obviously very well populated (so it was noticed).

Dr Georgios S. Papavasileiou, lecturer in civil and construction engineering at the University of Wolverhampton, said the quake was small but still felt by many because buildings in the UK are not set up to deal with tremors.

He explained: "According to the British Geological Survey, the earthquake that took place in the West Midlands last night was of a magnitude of 2.8, which would categorise it as a ‘minor’ earthquake. So, why did many people feel the earthquake? The reason is that, as significant seismic events are very rare in the UK, we do not design our typical residential buildings against earthquake.

"This should not be alarming, though, as our structures, provided that the construction quality is good, have an inherent ability to withstand minor seismic events even without developing any damage at all. In the UK, we have the codes to design buildings against earthquake, while for buildings of increased significance this is a hazard considered in their design.

"Overall, the event last night is not a frequent occurrence in the mainland of the UK and certainly not a reason of concern. It is a reminder though of the need for good quality in construction and our responsibility to ensure that there are no unsecured objects in our homes that could fall and cause injury."

Many residents took to social media to describe what happened. Robin Smith, of Manor Road, Walsall, posted: "Scared me half to death, thought car had hit the house."

One resident, who lives in the Sandwell borough, told the BGS it was like a "loud grumble like a passing lorry" which caused their windows to vibrate, but it was over "very quick".

While another in Lichfield said it was like a "very short jolt, almost sonic-boom like" as residents took to social media to report feeling the earthquake.

One resident reported his sofa "shaking" whilst another said: "I felt it everything shook in my room (and) thought someone was trying to break down my front door."

One person added: "I thought I felt unwell – I was walking up the stairs and my legs went like jelly."

Others told the BGS the quake shook their homes, while one person said it "was like a wardrobe had fallen over or an explosion blast against the window".

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