SA earthquake claims first life

The US Geological Survey says the earthquake measured 5.3 on the Richter scale.

Road damage in Kroonstad following a powerful earthquake which struck South Africa on 5 August. Picture: Mary-Ann van Aswegen/IWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Emergency services have now confirmed the powerful earthquake which struck South Africa around midday today has claimed its first life.

According to initial reports from the US Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake measured 5.3 on the Richter scale but the South African Council of Geoscience pegs the earthquake at 5.5.

The tremor was centred in Orkney, 120 kilometres southwest of Johannesburg, an area with a high concentration of deep gold mines. Aftershocks are expected.

Eyewitness News spoke to a US Geological Survey geophysicist who says reports have been received that tremors were felt as far as 500 kilometres away from the epicentre.

Rubble in Orkney following the earthquake which struck South Africa on 5 August. Picture: Twitter.

ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak says a man in his 30s was found dead by paramedics in Klerksdorp.

Vermaak says he had been crushed by debris following a wall collapse.

"Paramedics that were called to the scene found a man lying under the debris. Unfortunately there was nothing more they could do for him. He was declared dead on the scene and the incident has been handed over to local police."

ER24's Russel Meiring says the service has been put on high alert and has sent crews through to Orkney due to apparent building collapses.

Officials on mines have confirmed that no serious injuries have been reported.

Miners are now on the surface

Halls and a library were evacuated at Pretoria University, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's office was also cleared and there are reports that the South African Revenue Service's office in Durban was evacuated.

Meanwhile, Rescue South Africa has told Eyewitness News it's gathering information and is ready to deploy should its services become needed.

The organisation's Ian Scher says, "I heard there are a couple of people trapped and they may require our assistance, so we'll monitor and see."