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Disaster relief fund to assist earthquake victims

Supra Mahumapelo says special funds have to be secured to help those affected by yesterday's quake.

A house in the Khuma township damaged by the 5.5 magnitude earthquake which hit the North West on 5 August. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The North West government says it will start negotiations with the National Treasury for funds to help residents affected by the Orkney earthquake.

The 5.5 magnitude quake hit the North West on Tuesday and sent shockwaves across the country and beyond.

The tremor was centred in Orkney, a town situated around 120 kilometres southwest of Johannesburg with a high concentration of deep gold mines.

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

One person was killed when a wall fell on him and at least 21 miners were injured.

A total of 600 homes in the Khuma township, near the epicentre, have been severely damaged.

The quake, which was felt in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, the Free State and as far as Botswana, is the largest in the southern Africa region since a 7.0 tremor in Zimbabwe in 2006.

One person was killed when a wall fell on him and at least 21 miners were injured.

A total of 600 homes in the Khuma township, near the epicentre, have been severely damaged.

REPAIRS COULD TAKE YEARS

North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo says repairs to the damaged buildings and infrastructure may take years to complete.

Mahumapelo says although it's too early to quantify the full extent of the destruction, special funds have to be secured to help those affected.

"We formally approve the establishment of the Disaster Relief Fund. We approved the creation of a bank account for the earthquake disaster as part of relief."

He says the details of the fund will be announced within coming days.

Meanwhile, the North West government says it has launched an inquest into the exact cause of the quake and is assessing the damage to property near its epicentre.

He says because Klerksdorp is surrounded by mining towns, and government will investigate if the mines are linked to the earthquake.

"If we find there was shoddy work by contractors the law will be enforced."

Earlier on Wednesday, the North West government began evacuating residents out of homes at risk of collapsing.

A joint command centre has also been set up to manage the crisis.

SAFETY OF MINING COMPANIES UNDER SCRUTINY

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has called on mining companies to make sure their safety measures are firmly in place in case of aftershocks or new earthquakes.

Cosatu also wants the companies to offer counselling to miners affected by yesterday's earthquake.

AngloGold Ashanti says it is assessing the impact of the damage caused by the earthquake at its mines.

Meanwhile, the Council for Geoscience says it's difficult to determine the influence of mining activity on the earthquake.

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