MAPUTO, Mozambique — A powerful earthquake struck Mozambique early Thursday morning, shaking buildings and forcing people from hundreds of miles around to dash into the streets for safety. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
The magnitude-7.5 quake struck at 12:19 a.m. in southern Mozambique, 140 miles southwest of the coastal city of Beira, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The temblor was felt in neighboring Zimbabwe and as far south as Durban, South Africa, 800 miles away.
Elias Daudi, Mozambique's national director of energy, said that authorities still do not have any information on casualties or the extent of the damage. He also urged people not to return to their buildings because of possible aftershocks.
In Berira, Tivoli Hotel manager Johana Neves said none of her guests was hurt but many tourists awoke and ran terrified from the building.
"It felt like the building was going to fall down and it went on for a long time, the trembling," she said by telephone. "It felt like you were in a boat, it was shaking everything yet, it's strange, nothing is broken, even the windows."
Hotel guest Antonio Dinis said the streets were full of people afraid to go back home.
State radio said there was an unconfirmed report of a collapsed building in Beira.
Buildings swayed in Maputo, the capital of the this Indian Ocean nation, 400 miles south of Beira. Radio reports said hundreds of people fled their homes for the street, as they did in Chimoyo, some 300 miles west of Beira near the border with Zimbabwe.
A newspaper editor in Maputo said he was in the 11th floor of an apartment building that was rocked by the quake.
"It shook a lot. We could feel it very strongly," Fernando Velosa, editor of Jornal de Mocambique, told Lisbon radio station TSF. Portugal is the former colonial ruler of the African nation.
The quake was shallow, which increases the potential for damage, said Dale Grant, a scientist with the USGS in Golden, Colo., which is a clearinghouse for temblors worldwide. A quake nearing magnitude 8 is capable of causing tremendous damage.
At least five aftershocks were immediately recorded and more were expected in the coming days because of the quake's size, USGS said.
The temblor occurred near the southern end of the East African rift system, a seismically active zone. Since 1900, the largest quake measured on the rift system had a magnitude-7.6, according to the USGS.
On the Net:
USGS latest world earthquake information: earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/recenteqsww/