Earthquake: Officials arranging lodging for victims

Supra Mahumapelo says government's first priority is to find overnight accommodation for residents.

House damaged by earthquake in Khuma township, Stilfontein. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.

NORTH WEST - The North West government says an immediate concern in the wake of today's 5,5 magnitude earthquake is finding suitable accommodation for hundreds of people whose homes have been severely damaged.

The earthquake claimed one life, injured 21 people and has affected hundreds of families near its epicentre.

ER24'S Werner Vermaak said the man, believed to be in his 30's, was killed by a wall that collapsed.

It sent shockwaves across and beyond the country with the North West hardest hit.

North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo arrived in Khuma after sunset and was accompanied by several municipal officials.

He spent some time accessing the damage to homes in the township and tried to comfort affected families.

Mahumapelo says government's first priority is to find overnight accommodation for residents.

"There is also the problem of power but we're told Eskom is attending to the problem."

Disaster management officials are still on site and as a safety precaution and they're prohibiting home owners from entering the damaged structures.

630 HOISTERED UP AT ANGLO GOLD ASHANTI

A total of 630 miners are being hoisted to the surface at Anglo Gold Ashanti's mine in the Vaal.

At least 3,300 miners were underground at the mine when the quake knocked out power at two of its mines.

The process of bringing all workers to the surface is expected to wrap up this evening.

Anglo Gold's Stewart Bailey said, "We're doing it slowing to ensure safety also so that all are accounted for once they reach the surface."

Earlier the company confirmed 17 of its employees were injured.

"Early indications are that 17 of our employees at Great Noligwa and Moab Khotsong mines sustained minor injuries," the company said in a statement.

Bailey says the safety of the miners is priority.

"We have safety systems like a diesel generator so that in an event of a power cut, we're able to bring people back up."

EMERGENCY SERVICES ON HIGH ALERT

There are also warnings from geologists of aftershocks which are impossible to predict.

The magnitude of the earthquake has now been revised to 5,5 on the Richter Scale, up slightly from initial estimates by the US Geological Survey of 5,3.

The area around Johannesburg is not prone to seismic activity but it is home to some of the deepest gold mines in the world.

The quake is the largest in the southern Africa region since a 7.0 tremor in Zimbabwe in 2006.

GEOLOGISTS ANALYSE THE QUAKE

Geologist from the University Of Johannesburg Herman van Niekerk says he suspects the earthquake was triggered when an ancient fault line was disturbed.

"The old geological crust in the country is under stress and stress is being released by remobilisation of some of the old forts."

US based geophysist, Amy Vaughn, told Eyewitness News the US Geological Survey Centre processes numerous reports each day of earthquakes around the world which are of a similar strength.