Rare M5.5 earthquake shakes Madagascar

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People on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar were shaken by a rare moderately-strong M5.5 earthquake on January 12, 2017 morning.

Earthquakes are rare but not uncommon in Madagascar. This is the 8th largest quake in Madagascar’s history, the strongest having struck more than 67 years ago.

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A rare earthquake struck Madagascar on January 12, 2017. 7th strongest quake in country’s history. Map via USGS

Witnesses described fairly strong shaking during 15 to 20 seconds. There were no immediate reports of injuries or significant damage.

The United States Geological Service measured the quake at a magnitude 5.5 on the Richter scale. The quake was centered south of the lakeside town of Betafo, in central Madagascar, just a few miles from the border between Antananarivo and Fianarantsoa provinces.

The quake occurred just after 1 a.m. local time, and was felt in Antananarivo, Antsirabe and the Atsimo-Andrefana region. Witnesses described fairly strong shaking during about 15 to 20 seconds in duration.

In Antsirabe, a hotel guest reported a cracked ceiling and broken pipes that sent water into the room, but no serious damage. Guests went outside into the parking lot until it seemed safe to go back inside.

Others said they were awakened from their sleep, with houses shaking and rattling furniture. Some reported things falling off the walls.

The quake was felt across a wide area, including the Analamanga region and northwest toward Tsiroanimandidy.

Earthquakes are rare but not uncommon in Madagascar. According to Earthquaketrack, this is the 7th largest quake in Madagascar’s history, the strongest having struck more than 67 years ago.

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