The strong earthquake that hit Botswana on Monday night registered at a 6.5 magnitude on the Richter scale, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
The quake struck shortly before 8 p.m. near Moiyabana in the rural east-central Ghanzi region of the country. The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) also measured the Botswana earthquake at a 6.5-magnitude.
The Government of Botswana said Tuesday that there were reports of minor injuries and some structural damage in the large quake, which was the second-biggest on record. The largest quake recorded in the country was a 6.7 magnitude earthquake that hit Maun in 1952.
A 5.0 magnitude aftershock hit the same location shortly before 3 a.m. Wednesday morning.
The National Disaster Management Office said at least 36 students from Mothamo Junior Secondary School in Moiyabana were affected by Monday’s quake, with injuries received during a stampede to escape their boarding school buildings. Two students were taken to hospital, while the others were treated at the school or the village clinic.
Ten households from the Moiyabana village suffered some structural defects. Damage also was reported in Jwaneng, where the Government Civic Centre building was cracked.
The Geosciences Institute in Botswana planned to make visual assessments of the damage.
The earthquake was widely felt across Botswana and South Africa, as well as in Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, according to people who experienced the slow shaking of the shallow quake and logged their account with the USGS.
They included residents of Gaborone, Johannesburg and Pretoria, but also Maputo and Harare.
One Gabarone resident described a loud rumble that got louder and then ebbed away. “Something fell over in the garage, but otherwise no apparent damage,” they wrote on the EMSC testimonies log. “Very scary and everyone in the house panicked.”
Lights, doors and tables were shaking in Zimbabwe, while a Zambian resident described the experience there as scary too. People also reported aftershocks in the region.
Two buildings in Johannesburg were evacuated as a precaution, News 24 reported.
The USGS said that the earthquake was similar to those that occur in the East African rift system, a seismic zone that passes through eastern Africa from Djibouti and Eritrea on the north to Malawi and Mozambique on the south.
It was the second earthquake to hit southern Africa in less than 24 hours. An earlier 5.2-magnitude earthquake struck South Africa with an epicenter near Stilfontein, about 150 kilometers west of Johannesburg.