Windows rattled, doors shook open and furniture vibrated in several homes around the island yesterday when a series of earthquakes occurred 37 kilometres east of Malta.
Described as a quake of “average” magnitude, the first tremor, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, was mainly felt in the south of the island at about 12.11 a.m. Other quakes followed with a larger one, of 4.1 magnitude, felt soon after Easter lunch just after 3 p.m. This was slightly more powerful than average but still could not be considered to be a big earthquake, said Pauline Galea, who heads the University of Malta’s seismic monitoring unit.
Many of those who felt the first quake described it as an explosion in the distance. One man said he initially suspected it was a fireworks factory that had blown up.
“I felt it faintly in Ta’ Xbiex,” a timesofmalta.com reader wrote, adding: “The bedroom door shook for a second like a blast had occurred far away.”
A Żejtun resident said: “I felt something similar to the effects of having a truck starting its engine behind my front door”.
A young woman from Qormi woke up to the sound of vibrations and her mother, who was in another room, said it was as though there was something in her wardrobe.
An Msida woman said she saw water ripples form in her tea cup just after midnight.
A woman, who was in Sannat, felt her bed shake and looked under it thinking there was her dog there but the pet was nowhere around.
At about 3.03 p.m., a Marsa man was sitting at his computer when the table started moving during the tremor that lasted a few seconds. At the same time, a woman in Xewxika heard a loud, creaking sound and her home started shaking.
There were no reports of damage and the Civil Protection Department received no calls for assistance.
Ms Galea explained the earthquakes occurred at a location 35.85 degrees north, 14.892 degrees east at a depth of 7.1 kilometres.
The first one was followed by other quakes at about the same location. Ms Galea explained that around the island there were a number of “faults”, which are like cracks in the earth’s crust. These faults move occasionally, causing earthquakes that are not always felt on land.
The quakes yesterday were felt because the fault was quite close to Malta’s shores.
This type of activity was normal. However, it was important to monitor it to ensure the movements of the faults were known.
Although some readers compared the event to the tsunami and quake that devastated Japan, Ms Galea explained there was nothing to worry about with a quake like yesterday’s. For a tsunami to take place one would need at least a 7.5 magnitude.
The series of quakes occurred on the day The Sunday Times carried a report on predictions of an earthquake by the Virgin Mary at Borg in-Nadur in her weekly apparitions to Anġelik Caruana. She also predicted that divorce will not go through.
In 1972, Malta was rocked by an earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale. In 1693, a 7.4 quake close to Sicily had caused extensive damage in Malta.
Just over three weeks ago, on April 1, a 6.1-magnitude undersea quake that rocked the south eastern Aegean Sea, off the north coast of Crete, was felt in several localities in Malta.
The location of the earthquakes may be viewed on the website www.phys.um.edu.mt/seismic, where residents can also fill in the online questionnaire if they felt the quake.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us