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Government to help Kalgoorlie quake victims

Updated April 20, 2010 23:25:00

Kalgoorlie-Boulder supermarket

A man flees from a Kalgoorlie-Boulder supermarket during Tuesday morning's earthquake.

An assistance package could be available for Kalgoorlie-Boulder residents affected by a 5.0-magnitude earthquake which struck the Goldfields city.

About a dozen buildings in the main street of Boulder were badly damaged in Tuesday morning's quake, which is the biggest recorded in the region.

Eyre MLA Graham Jacobs, whose office is in one of the worst affected streets, inspected the damage this afternoon.

Doctor Jacobs says there will be some assistance from the government, and it will work with the Fire and Emergency Services Authority to determine how much assistance is needed.

"Everywhere I look, there's significant cracks in buildings, there's some parapets that have collapsed, there are brick walls that have collapsed," he said.

"I think it's very obvious to anybody here today that the impact is rather severe on this area.

Hundreds of school children were evacuated from classrooms after the earthquake struck.

Geoscience Australia says the earthquake hit one to two kilometres south of the Kalgoorlie city centre in Boulder about 8:20am.

Ambulance officers have taken a man and a woman to hospital with minor injuries. They are both in a stable condition.

Residents are being warned to prepare for aftershocks, but Geoscience Australia's David Jepsen said the worst should be over.

"You can never rule out anything, but the general behaviour of earthquakes in Australia is that you would only have smaller aftershocks."

People who need help can call the SES on 132 500.

The Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) said the quake - the strongest ever recorded in the area - mainly affected Boulder and five or six hotels on Burt Street, including the Roc Hotel and the Golden Eagle, which have been damaged.

The balcony of the Golden Eagle hotel collapsed during the quake. Burt and Lane Streets in Boulder have been closed and FESA is asking people to avoid the area.

Kalgoorlie Mayor Ron Yuryevich told ABC local radio it was lucky no-one was killed in the quake, which he described as the most intense in the 57 years he has lived in the town.

"Facades have come off and fallen through verandahs and in fact the Golden Eagle Hotel [has] gone through the floor there onto the pavement," he said.

"At the Commercial Hotel, which is at the main intersection of Burt and Lane Street, it's only God willing that no-one got killed."

The Education Department said Boulder Primary School had extensive damage and several buildings had to be evacuated.

O'Connor Primary School and Kalgoorlie Primary School have some damage and are partly closed, with some buildings declared unusable. The Kalgoorlie School of the Air is closed.

Mine evacuated

Workers from Kalgoorlie's KCGM Super Pit have also been evacuated.

The Super Pit is the largest open cut mining pit in Australia and KCGM general manager Russell Cole said a full geotechnical assessment was underway.

"KCGM believes that this was a seismic event. Because of the location, it is beyond our systems to determine the exact nature and specifics of the event," he said in a statement.

"A regional triangulation will need to be undertaken by Geosciences Australia.

"All personnel are safe. Mt Charlotte underground crew have been brought to surface and will remain so until a full geotechnical assessment of the area has been conducted.

"Open pits have suspended operations and a full geotechnical assessment is underway. This could take several hours."

Assessing the damage

FESA and SES volunteers from Kalgoorlie are working in the area and locals are being asked to turn off their electricity, gas and water if possible.

David Jepsen, a senior seismologist with Geoscience Australia, told ABC Local Radio the earthquake was felt up to several hundred kilometres from where it struck.

"This is the largest earthquake that we've had in the region since we've recorded earthquakes here," he said.

"We can't rule out the effects of what the mining has done."

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett said authorities were assessing the damage.

"We're just getting some information that it was quite a strong earthquake," he said.

"There's been some structural damage to some schools [and] they've been closed for the day just to check their safety. It's being dealt with.

"Western Australia can be prone to earthquakes and this is an example."

Earth shook

Residents from across the Goldfields city told ABC Local Radio they felt the earth shake and feared their homes would fall down around them.

"I sort of stopped brushing and looked at the kids and thought, I wonder what will go if the house starts falling down," one resident said.

Kambalda resident Bernadette said the floors and the walls shook and she ran to get her baby out of its cot as her husband leapt up from the couch so they could shelter beneath door frames.

Another local who was about 10 kilometres out of town said the earth shook for 10 to 15 seconds.

"I thought it was a mine blast but I knew the mine blast was at the wrong time," the resident said.

People in towns as far away as Coolgardie have reported feeling the tremor.

Aftershocks

Some residents have described feeling several aftershocks.

Boulder resident Nikki told ABC News Online there had been dozens of aftershocks since the earthquake.

"I live in Boulder and I certainly felt it. I was just falling asleep after working a night shift and the house shaking woke me up," she said.

"I immediately heard sirens, probably responding to the damaged buildings on Burt St close to where I live.

"Soon after I felt two fairly strong aftershocks in quick succession. There have been dozens of smaller ones since."

John Wulf, a cleaner at the Kalgoorlie Hotel, told ABC News Online there had already been an aftershock.

"There's been one little aftershock and that was it. That was nothing like the major one," he said.

Mr Wulf said he got a huge fright from the first quake.

"I was inside and I took off outside very quickly," he said.

"I've been through earthquakes before but I haven't felt one like that before.

"I thought it was a blast from KCGM [mine], because that's what it felt like. It felt like it was right underneath. KCGM do a lot of blasting but I've never felt one like that before."

Mr Wulf said he was busy cleaning at the hotel, but now he would have to start all over again.

"There's a bit of debris here and there, nothing I can't fix," he said.

But Mr Wulf said he was yet to inspect the damage on the first floor of the hotel.

Tags: disasters-and-accidents, earthquake, wa, kalgoorlie-6430

First posted April 20, 2010 10:36:00

Comments (14)

Comments for this story are closed, but you can still have your say.

  • ABC (Moderator):

    20 Apr 2010 12:23:30pm

    Did you feel the earthquake?

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

    • Kalgoorlie-perth:

      20 Apr 2010 12:46:41pm

      i didn't feel it but i have heard about it..

      i live in Kalgoorlie tho.

      Agree (0) Alert moderator

    • brisbane:

      20 Apr 2010 12:51:48pm

      wonder if it was the mine or just a freak occurrence

      Agree (0) Alert moderator

      • Kat:

        20 Apr 2010 1:05:15pm


        Geoscience Australia wouldn't mistake a mine blast for an earthquake.

        Agree (0) Alert moderator

    • Luke:

      20 Apr 2010 12:57:52pm

      I heard and felt it. id just got into my office to check my email and yeah, freaky.

      Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Nikki:

    20 Apr 2010 1:02:47pm

    I live in Boulder and I certainly felt it. I was just falling asleep after working a night shift and the house shaking woke me up. I immediately heard sirens, probably responding to the damaged buildings on Burt St close to where I live. Soon after, I felt two failry strong aftershocks in quick succession. There have been dozens of smaller ones since.

    My husband was out walking the dog when the quake hit, and he immediately phoned me. Poor dog was freaked out and making a bolt for home. He walked through the front gate with his tail between his legs, he was really frightened!

    Some years ago I live in Tokyo and even though small quakes arent uncommon in this region, I have never felt anything like it since Japan.

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  • Nicci:

    20 Apr 2010 1:05:39pm

    Yes! It was awesome. Send more!!

    Agree (1) Alert moderator

  • Kalgoorlie Boulder:

    20 Apr 2010 1:11:18pm

    I live in Boulder and it was scary, the house shook and crockery fell off shelves. The rumbling was the worst so loud it only went for probably 20 seconds but felt like 5 minutes. We have had some aftershocks but no where near as bad as the first one.

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  • bilby:

    20 Apr 2010 1:20:46pm

    i live in burt st just down from the rec hotel and yeah ive never felt anything like it, i work at kcgm so i knew it wasnt a blast but bloody hell it was enough to get me running for the doorway

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  • Shaun harris:

    20 Apr 2010 1:43:24pm

    I was in boulder the time it hit, I have gone through a few kalgoorlie tremors And this was the biggest on I have felt in my 39 years of living here.

    I was sitting at my computer and then it hit, a huge rumbling noise and stuff flying off the wall, it was huge I said. I felt 2 minor tremors a few minutes later whilst I was on my phone to family checking to see if everything was ok with them

    this quake was minor compared to chile

    And know what that are going through

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  • Shawilk:

    20 Apr 2010 1:50:01pm

    I would say most felt it through Kalgoorlie- Boulder. I was in Hannans and can describe it like a truck had driven through the front of the house... only the walls didn't fall down!
    Windows were rattling heavily and the building was creaking. Very loud. My dog also paniced and took several minutes to settle enough to stop shaking.
    O'Connor Primary School also received damage though not to evacuate. lifted ceilings and damaged plaster. cracks in walls, that kind of thing. Everyone appeared to handle it very well. Definitely not the usual blast or collapse like tremors that we also get here in Kal.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Dave:

    20 Apr 2010 2:09:46pm

    A bit like being in NZ --they get a few there.Their ones seem more intense though.Luckily no loss of homes or major injuries .

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • AllShookUp:

    20 Apr 2010 2:19:00pm

    Oh I felt it and it was horrible. I was sitting at home having a good old bang on the old Joanna when I suddenly felt the most horrid tremor. I was shaking around like crazy, I thought I was 5 years old again and me Mum (bless her soul) had decided to teach me another lesson. Crockery was flying everywhere and I was going all over the shop and then suddenly it stopped, I got back up and fixed myself some lunch and served it on the one china palte the was not smashed in the earthquake

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  • Mike Herbertson:

    20 Apr 2010 2:24:01pm

    It was terrible there were ripples in my coffee cup in Kambalda. I was so afraid that it had ruined my coffee I had to throw it out and get a new one!

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