5.5-magnitude earthquake rocks Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean flag. File picture
Zimbabwean flag. File picture
Image: Natanael Alfredo Nemanita Ginting

An earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale has struck Zimbabwe‚ the country’s media reported on Saturday.

The US Geological Service agency said the quake had occurred 53km southeast of the town of Chipinge‚ affecting parts of Zimbabwe and neighbouring Mozambique.

“The 5.5-magnitude earthquake in Chipinge has left villagers scared and in panic especially in the Beacon area‚ with less strong rural buildings being destroyed‚” the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said.

It said the earthquake had occurred at 7.40am‚ with Chipinge the epicentre‚ while tremors were felt as far as Mutare‚ Masvingo and Harare.

The broadcaster quoted Meteorological Service Department spokesperson Rich Zinyemba as saying they were still investigating the effects.

According to the broadcaster, the tremor affected at least 40 homesteads‚ destroying fewer strong buildings and granaries‚ and leaving cracks on some houses in the Beacon area of Chipinge‚ which is less than 2km from the border with Mozambique.

Manicaland is a seismically active region as evidenced by many moderate to large earthquakes occurring every year‚ it said.

It quoted the Meteorological Service Department as saying that most earthquakes that occur in the region are due to natural plate tectonics and this is attributed to the East African rift system which extends to Mozambique.

Zimbabweans are scheduled to go to the polls in January.

Ironically‚ amid mounting fears the Zimbabwe Election Commission will not be able to hold a credible‚ free and fair election‚ commission chair judge Priscilla Chigumba was quoted recently as saying that “only an earthquake” would stop the election.