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THOUSANDS FEEL THE EARTH MOVE; Quake's 5.30am wake-up alarm.

THE most powerful earth tremor in Britain for a decade shook Coventry and Warwickshire awake this morning.

Thousands of people were alarmed by the 5.30am quake, which was strong enough to vibrate walls and rattle crockery.

The deep rumble was recorded at 4.2 on the Richter scale. But no damage was reported and no-one was hurt.

The epicentre was at Budbrooke, near Warwick, although households up to 30 miles away were shaken.

Seismologists say the tremor was caused by a minor geological fault underneath Warwickshire.

Garage owner Leo McDermott, of Mantilla Drive, Styvechale, Coventry, said: "I was frightened and so was my wife but I knew immediately it was an earthquake.

"My sister lives in San Francisco and I have slept through quakes there. It felt like someone had crashed into the back of our house."

Many families thought their homes were being broken into. A police spokesman in Coventry said: "We had a number of calls from people who thought intruders were on their premises. An earthquake is the last thing you expect."

Lisa Adam, aged 15, of Chesford Crescent, Alderman's Green, bolted awake at 5.30am.

She said: "The whole house was shaking and I really panicked. I ran into my parents, but they told me I was dreaming."

Alan Eaton, a builder, of Darnford Close, Walsgrave, said: "I heard a huge bang and thought it was a car outside, but then I realised it was something like an earthquake because my radiator wouldn't stop rattling."

In south Warwickshire Insp Colin Reynolds said: "We had about 50 phone calls following the tremor.

"We have checked the motorways and bridges in the area, but no damage is reported."

Seismologist Glenn Ford of the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh said: "People would have felt windows rattling profusely for about five seconds.

"It was felt as far away as Gloucester, Birmingham and Rugby and was enough to set ornaments shaking but not to do serious damage - it was 100,000 times smaller than the Turkish quake last year."

It was Britain's strongest tremor since 1990, when Bishop's Castle, Shropshire, was hit.

Christine Graham, manager of the Highway Girl boutique in Riley Square, Bell Green, said shoppers had been buzzing with news of the tremor.

"People from the Bell Green and Aldermans Green areas were woken by the earthquake. They have said pictures were rattling and beds shaking from the force of it."

Security firm managing director Tony Walsh, aged 51, of Glasshouse Lane, Kenilworth, said: "I heard an explosion and jumped out of bed because I thought somebody was breaking into the house.

"The house was physically shaking. I've never known anything like it before."

We've felt it all before ...

PREVIOUS earthquakes in the Coventry and Warwickshire area:

May 1994: Welford-on-Avon, near Stratford, was the epicentre of an earthquake measuring 3.1 on the Richter scale. The effects were felt in Stratford and as far away as Worcester.

April 1990: An earthquake measuring 3.0 on the Richter scale was felt in a large part of central and southern England including Coventry, London, Brighton, Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester.

July 1984: An earthquake measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale toppled a chimney in Radford, Coventry and was also felt in Warwickshire, Wales, Cheshire, Lancashire, Staffordshire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man.

November 1975: An earth tremor shook Ash Green, on the outskirts of Coventry, and a small area nearby.

11 quakes in 30 days

In the past 30 days there have been 11 earthquakes in Britain but most of them were so low on the Richter scale they were barely noticeable.

Britain is criss-crossed with small fault lines where earthquakes take place.

According to available records 11 people have died in British earthquakes, the first in 1580 and the last in 1940. Most of them died from being hit by falling masonry, falling out of windows or falling downstairs.

The largest quake recorded in Britain was at Dogger Bank in the North Sea off the east coast. It took place in the early hours of the morning on June 7, 1931 and measured 6.1 on the Richter scale.

The biggest earthquakes ever measured were in Chile in 1960 and Alaska in 1964, both registering 8.5 on the Richter scale.

The world's hottest spot for earthquakes is on the edge of the Pacific Ocean in an area running from South American, along the west coast of the USA, through Alaska, Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia to Australia.
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Author:Diver, Krysia; Wilson, Lucy
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Sep 23, 2000
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