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Britain's all shook up; Earthquake hits 5.2 on the Richter scale and rocks the nation.

Byline: By JAMES BELL and LISA HUTCHINSON

TREMORS hit Tyneside today as an earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale sent shock waves across the country.

Police received dozens of calls from residents who felt the quake shortly before 1am.

The epicentre was near Grimsby but people across Britain said they felt buildings shake.

Many said the tremors had been strong enough to wake them.

Police started receiving reports from people living in North and South Tyneside and even as far away as Haydon Bridge in Northumberland.

A resident in a three-storey house at Haydon Bridge reported the third floor moving from side to side.

In Tynemouth a woman said she felt the tremor and her settee moved.

And in South Shields a caller said their building was moving "front to back".

While in North Shields another householder said their top floor flat was "swaying and vibrating".

More calls came from Washington, Sunderland, Jarrow and Forest Hall, all saying they felt the tremor.

In County Durham buildings were reported shaking in Consett.

Today shocked Paul Royal, 25, from West Jesmond, Newcastle, said he felt his flat shake for about 20 seconds.

He said: "The building shook, the sofa shook and the windows started to shake. I joked with my flat mate saying it was an earthquake until my friend texted me telling me there was an earthquake.

"You would have thought a poltergeist was in the room. The furniture moved and I didn't know what it was. I got the shock of my life when a picture fell off the wall."

Journalist David Craig, 44, who covers Newcastle United games and other North East sport for Sky Sports News, was shaken out of bed at his North Yorkshire home.

He said: "I have never before felt anything like this. My wife and I were in bed when the whole house shook. The bed and things on the walls were shaking.

"We jumped out of bed and thought a plane had crashed or an explosion had taken place nearby. The last thing we thought was an earthquake.

"There was an almighty shake and then silence - then all the birds started singing. It was unreal. If this earthquake was 5.2 on the Richter scale, God knows what it is like in countries where they have very bad earthquakes."

Factory worker Kelly Hannon, 25, of St Cuthbert's Court, Bensham, Gateshead, said: "At around 1am I was listening to the radio in bed and suddenly my bed shook for a few seconds or so and because I live in a block of flats I went to the window to see what was happening. I thought it was due to the wind.

"I was a little scared and then started to check rooms because my daughter and I had watched Most Haunted nights before and thought there maybe a ghost or something. But then five minutes later the radio started mentioning calls were coming in from Whitley Bay and explained what had happened.

"It's not like an earthquake happens every day."

Insp Julie Cole from Northumbria Police said they received more than 20 calls in half an hour. No casualties or damage has been reported in the region as a result of the tremors.

A police spokesman said: "At approximately 1am, as with other parts of the United Kingdom, a number of reports were received by Northumbria Police from members of the public reporting an earth tremor.

"Patrolling officers across the force area also reported the same thing."

A spokesman for Durham Police said: "There were minor tremors all over the force area at about 12.55am.

"There were no reports of any damage and no concerns for public safety."

Elsewhere, police were receiving calls from terrified pensioners.

A man from Barnsley was taken to hospital after a chimney collapsed and fell into his bedroom.

East Midlands Ambulance Service, which covers Lincolnshire, said there had been many emergency calls but no reports of injuries.

"Most of them were from elderly people who were quite frightened," a spokeswoman said.

The British Geological Survey initially gave the magnitude for the quake as 5.3 on the Richter scale but has now said it was closer to 5.2.

It said the centre was 15 miles south west of Grimsby.

Seismologist Dr Brian Baptie of the BGS said: "This is a significant earthquake for the UK and will have been widely felt across England and Wales."

The BGS said it records around 200 earthquakes in the UK each year - an eighth of which are able to be felt by residents.

It said earthquakes of this size occur around every 30 years but are more common in offshore areas.

Today's quake is the largest since 1984 when an earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale shook the Lleyn Peninsula of north Wales and was widely felt across England and Wales.

CAPTION(S):

HIT: Damaged houses in Lincolshire near the epicetre
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 27, 2008
Words:824
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