GABORONE — A strong earthquake struck in a remote region of Botswana on Monday near the renowned Kalahari game reserve, sending shockwaves across the southern African country though there were no early reports of casualties or damage.
The magnitude 6.5 quake’s epicenter was nearly 250 km (155 miles) north-northwest of the capital Gaborone at a depth of 12 km (7 miles), the U.S. Geological Survey said.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush is due to visit the city on Tuesday to highlight the importance of America’s overseas humanitarian aid, officials have said.
Tremors were also felt in neighboring South Africa.
“We certainly felt [the quake] here in central Gaborone. The buildings … were trembling,” said, Botswana’s chief government spokesman, Jeff Ramsay. “We don’t have any reports of casualties or damage yet but its a bit early to tell.”
Kgosi Kgomokgwana, the traditional chief of Moiyabana, a village close to the epicenter, said: “This is the first time we have felt something like that in this area.”
The quake was felt across Limpopo‚ Mpumalanga‚ North West and large parts of Gauteng‚ shaking buildings. Suburbs in Johannesburg where the tremor was felt included Illovo‚ Rosebank‚ Centurion‚ Roodepoort‚ Boksburg and Pretoria.
TMG Digital reported that an earth tremor measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale had occurred earlier in the day in Krugersdorp on the West Rand of Gauteng in the mining town of Stilfontein. That epicenter was 2km underground.
Ian Saunders‚ a seismologist at the Council for Geoscience‚ said Monday evening’s quake was a “serious” one.
“That is a big magnitude. We are currently assembling teams to be dispatched to Botswana. There are already teams heading to the earthquake zone from earlier in the day.”
He said at this stage it was unknown if it was linked to the earthquake in Klerksdorp. “We are currently awaiting reports of damage‚ injuries and possibly deaths.”