Tremor of 5.3 magnitude hits Malta


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Earthquake felt in several parts of the island

Updated 9.45am

An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.3 shook Malta early on Saturday morning, jolting thousands.

The tremor was felt in several parts of Malta around 12.20am, sparking a flurry of comments on social media, despite the late hour.

People reported being woken up by shaking beds and furniture in southern towns like Birżebbuġa to others on the opposite end of the country, such as Mellieħa or Żebbuġ, Gozo.

The tremor struck towards the south east of the island, around 129 kilometres off the coast, close to where several other quakes hit throughout the beginning of this year.

The shake was also felt in neighbouring Sicily and Libya.

Calculations of its magnitude varied somewhat: by Saturday morning, the Seismic Monitoring and Research Group at the University of Malta was reporting the overnight tremor as having been of magnitude 5.1, while the United States Geological Survey classified it as a magnitude 5.5 event.

Hours later, shortly after 6am on Saturday, another tremor was recorded close to the Libyan coast. That tremor measured 4.7 on the Richter scale, according to the University's Seismic Monitoring and Research Group.

The last earthquake felt on land was reported on April 11 when a magnitude 4.5 earthquake struck about 100 km south of Malta.

Malta experienced a spate of seismic activity at the start of the year, with dozens of tremors recorded over a matter of weeks.

While the tremors prompted some concern due to their frequency, seismologists say such periodic flurries are common and should not cause alarm.

At the time, local experts had said the seismic activity would most likely last for several weeks or months.

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