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Britain: Homes damaged in quake

Sunday, April 29th 2007 - 21:00 UTC
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Evacuation ... emergency services took 300 calls Evacuation ... emergency services took 300 calls

Several families remain in emergency accommodation after an earthquake struck a corner of Britain, causing power cuts and damaging dozens of home.

The moderate shock, centred near Folkestone in Kent and registering 4.3 on the Richter scale, left emergency services trying to cope with hundreds of calls. A 30-year-old woman suffering from a minor head injury and neck pain was the only person who needed hospital treatment after the 8.18am tremor, the ambulance service said. Shepway District Council said two large families and several other families were being accommodated last night at the authority's emergency centre. Council spokesman Jeff Stack estimated it would take days just for the initial analysis of homes to be carried out. Almost 100 sought refuge at the Salvation Army centre in Canterbury Road, Folkestone, after the tremor, and more than a dozen spent last night there. The centre was one of the places affected by power cuts but Salvation Army minister Captain Peter West came to the rescue with an emergency vehicle equipped with its own gas and electric generator, to provide food and drinks. He said: "A lot of people were upset and confused, but there was no serious trauma." Anne Gould, 36, sought shelter at the Salvation Army building after a chimney collapsed at her home. She said: "You've got to be thankful that we're all still alive I suppose. I was just getting dressed when the whole house swayed. Then I heard the chimney coming off and sliding down the front of the house." British Geological Survey (BGS) seismologist Roger Musson said the quake was "by no means a complete surprise". "There have been earthquakes in this location before." He said the first was in 1382 and in 1580 a quake with a magnitude of about six killed two people in London. Police want owners of local businesses which were empty over the weekend to check their premises for signs of damage. The BGS is keen for anyone who felt the earthquake to fill in a questionnaire on their website so they can collect information on the impact of the earthquake to analyse in more detail its strength and precise location. Meanwhile, beach huts in Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire, were cleared after a crack hundreds of metres long appeared in the coastal cliff. The Marine and Coastguard Agency said the 15cm (6in) wide crack that appeared about 240km (150 miles) away from Folkestone could have been triggered by the quake but Hampshire Police said there was not thought to be a link.

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