A 5.5 magnitude earthquake has rattled eastern Zimbabwe and neighbouring Mozambique on December 22, 2018, shortly after 7.30am and was felt by many in the capital Harare.

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Rare M5.5 earthquake hits 53km SSE of Chipinge, Zimbabwe in Mozambique on December 22, 2018. via USGS

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.5 has struck the border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique, with shaking felt as far away as Harare. There was no immediate word on damage or injuries.

The tremor, which struck at 7:37 a.m. on Saturday, was centered near Espungabera in central Mozambique, about 54 kilometers (33 miles) southeast of Chipinge and 92 kilometers (57 miles) northwest of Massangena.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) puts the magnitude at 5.5 with a depth of 7.6 kilometers (4.7 miles), making it a very shallow earthquake. The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre puts the magnitude at 5.6.

There was no immediate word on damage or casualties, but the USGS estimates that up to 21 million people could have felt the earthquake, including 274,000 people who may have felt “strong” to “very strong” shaking.

Residents of Zimbabwe’s eastern city of Mutare, more than 180 kilometres away, are reporting feeling the tremors even while in fuel queues.

In Harare, people took to social media to express their panic, though there are no reports of injuries or real damage so far.

Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are a mix of vulnerable and earthquake resistant construction,” the USGS said in its assessment. “Some casualties and damage are possible and the impact should be relatively localized.

Eastern Zimbabwe is part of the East African Rift System where there’s regular seismic activity; many remember the magnitude 7 earthquake in 2006, again near Chipinge.

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[USGS, BNO News, EWN]

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