An earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale has struck Zimbabwe, the country’s media reported on Saturday.
The US Geological Service agency (USGS) said the quake had occurred 53km south-east of the town of Chipinge, affecting parts of Zimbabwe and neighbouring Mozambique.
“The 5.5 magnitude earthquake in Chipinge has left villagers scared and in panic especially in the Beacon area, with less strong rural buildings being destroyed,” the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) reported.
It said the earthquake had occurred at 7.40am, with Chipinge being the epicentre, while tremors were felt as far as Mutare, Masvingo and the capital, Harare.
The broadcaster quoted Meteorological Service Department spokesperson Rich Zinyemba as saying they were still investigating the effects of the earthquake.
According to the ZBC, the tremor affected at least 40 homesteads, destroying less strong buildings and granaries, and leaving cracks on some houses in the Beacon area of Chipinge, which is less than 2kms from the border with Mozambique.
Manicaland is a seismically active region as evidenced by many moderate to large earthquakes occurring every year, the broadcaster said.
It quoted the Meteorological Service Department as saying that most earthquakes that occur in the region are due to natural plate tectonics and this is attributed to the East African rift system which extends to Mozambique.
Zimbabweans are scheduled to go to the polls next month. Ironically, amid mounting fears that the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) will not be able to hold a credible, free, and fair election, the commission’s chairperson, Judge Priscilla Chigumba, was quoted recently as saying that “only an earthquake” would stop the election.