Earthquake: 'Repairs could take years'

North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo says it’s too early to quantify the full extent of the destruction.

Damage caused by yesterday's earthquake in Khuma township in the North West. Picture: Sapa.

NORTH WEST - The North West government says repairs to damaged buildings and infrastructure may take years to complete following yesterday's 5,5 magnitude earthquake.

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, 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 man was killed when a wall collapsed on him while 21 miners at Anglo Gold Ashanti were injured.

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

INQUEST LAUNCHED INTO CAUSE OF QUAKE

North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo says it's too early to quantify the full extent of the destruction.

"We can't estimate how much it will cost to repair the affected areas."

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.

Mahumapelo says because Klerksdorp is surrounded by mining towns, they will investigate if the mines are linked to the earthquake.

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

The premier says they have begun evacuating residents out of homes, which are at risk of collapsing and a joint command centre has been set up to manage the crisis.

Meanwhile, 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.

'DIFFICULT' TO BLAME MINING

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

The council's Denver Birch said it's difficult to prove mining is to blame.

"You can imagine they're moving millions of tons of rock every day and something has to fill that gap so the stress gets transferred.

"To say that the mining directly influenced it is difficult to prove. Simply because we didn't have a station set up 50 years ago that could have told us this area has a history of magnitude fives."

Video: Earthquake hits SA.