Wagin earthquake: Reports of damage in Arthur River area after 4.7 magnitude earthquake

Brianna DuganThe West Australian
VideoA 4.7 magnitude earthquake struck near Wagin in WA’s Great Southern on Tuesday morning

A 4.7-magnitude earthquake that struck Wagin on Tuesday morning was the biggest in a series of ‘swarm’ quakes — but it may not be the last, according to a seismologist.

The quake struck the area at 5.24am, sending tremors all the way through Perth and as far as Albany, according to the Federal Government’s Geoscience Australia website.

Geoscience Australia senior seismologist Tanja Pejic said more than 743 community reports had been made about the earthquake, with several people reporting damage in the Arthur River area.

“That number is steadily climbing up. I’ve seen it go up, and up, and up since the earthquake occurred,” Ms Pejic said.

“There have been reports of damage but these reports have not been verified — meaning we haven’t had the team out there to check.

“(The reports) are in the communities closer to the area, like Arthur River.”

Ms Pejic said there had been several earthquakes reported in the region over the past week, creating a “swarm” event.

“We’ve had a lot of earthquakes happening in a very short period of time. Most of them have been a magnitude of two to three, we’ve had a few larger than three all in the past week,” she said.

“We had three on Saturday alone, all larger than 3.5, and this one (Wagin) is the largest so far.

“What we are seeing here is a swarm, with a series of larger earthquakes which all have their own aftershocks.

Ms Pejic said there was no real global understanding of how swarms form.

The seismologist went on to say what happens next couldn’t be “predicted”, and it remained to be seen whether the Wagin earthquake was the crescendo of all of the tremors over the past weeks.

“In hindsight, from a couple of months from now, we can say ‘yes that was the crescendo, or not it wasn’t’ but at the moment we just don’t know because there is a possibility for a larger earthquake to occur or it can simply die down — we just don’t know,” Ms Pejic said.

Wagin’s giant ram Bart ‘still standing’

Wagin shire president Phillip Blight said he felt a “rumble start” and then it “felt like a truck driving past”.

“(The rumble) built up and was sustained enough to know it was an earthquake,” Cr Blight said.

He said it was a bit early to assess any initial damage, but confirmed the town had experienced smaller tremors for the past few weeks.

“We’ve had a series of smaller (tremors) over the past three weeks or so,” Cr Blight said.

“They’ve been around the same area, sort of west of town, around the two magnitude.

“It’s been building up so hopefully that was the end of it.”

In excellent news for tourists, the monumental ram of Wagin is reported to be okay and survived the earthquake.

Cr Blight told The West Live that Bart was “still standing in all his glory” Tuesday morning.

Bart was built in 1985 and is visited by thousands of tourists every year.

What to do if an earthquake hits

Geoscience Australia recommends those experiencing an earthquake to “drop, cover, hold”.

“Drop down to all fours so you don’t fall over in the shaking. Cover your head with your hands, and go under a sturdy object — like a table — and hold onto it,” Ms Pejic said.

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