Earth tremor hits Manchester

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An earth tremor shook parts of the Greater Manchester area today.

A two-second rumble was felt over a wide area of the city just before 9am, followed by a smaller tremor some 10 minutes later.

Emergency services reported dozens of calls, but said it was too early to say if any damage had been caused.

The British Geological Survey said that first readings showed that the earthquake had measured between 2.5 and three on the Richter scale.

Reports said it was felt throughout the Greater Manchester area.

Assistant seismologist Julian Bukits said: "That is a fairly large earthquake for the UK, although we would not expect damage to have been caused."

He said the tremor was not comparable to that which shook the West Midlands last month, and which measured 4.8 on the scale.

Mr Bukits, at the Survey's headquarters in Edinburgh, said it appeared the earthquake had been confined to Greater Manchester, with reports coming in from Manchester and neighbouring Oldham, Salford and Stockport.

"Because it is such a densely populated area more people will have felt the effects and more people will have reported it," he said.

Readings were still being analysed. Mr Bukits said that if the tremor had measured 2.5 around 10 such earthquakes would be expected in the UK each year.

If the reading was three, then three such tremors would be expected in a year.

A Greater Manchester police spokesman said the earthquake was felt at the multi-storey police headquarters in Trafford.

Workers in Manchester city centre also felt the tremor.

Legal secretary Lyndsey Fellows, 27, who works in the Royal Exchange in St Anns Square, said she was sat at her desk when she felt the earthquake.

"The computer screen just started shaking and you could feel the floor moving," she said. "I thought it was a car crashing outside."

Alan Birchall, senior security officer at the Royal Exchange, said he feared a bomb had gone off in the same area as the IRA attack on Manchester in 1996.

"I was on the roof carrying out an inspection and heard a bang," he said.

"I felt the roof move and my legs wobbled. It was pretty hair-raising. I thought it was a bomb, a plane crashing or an earthquake."

Mr Birchall said he was working at the time of the IRA bomb, as were some of the workers in the building.

"Many workers in the building phoned us up concerned," he said. "Some were more concerned than others, as you would expect."

Solicitor Peter Brennand said: "I felt a rumble and the computers shudder and the floor move.

"I thought it was an earthquake. I couldn't think of anything else."

Lyon Gilchrist, 49, of Salford, was getting ready for work when she felt the earthquake.

She said: "I was upstairs and the window shook. My husband was downstairs and he said the television had shook and the floor."

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