Quake in Tanzania kills at least 13, injures 203

5.7-magnitude tremor of higher intensity than the 'fairly common' quakes in the region

DAR ES SALAAM • At least 13 people were killed and 203 injured in north-west Tanzania when a 5.7-magnitude earthquake hit the country on Saturday, the local authorities said.

"The toll has climbed from 11 people dead to 13 and from 192 injured to 203," said Mr Deodatus Kinawilo, district commissioner for Bukoba, the town close to the epicentre of the quake.

"For now, the situation is calm and under control," said Mr Kinawilo.

"Some people have been discharged from hospital," he added. "We don't expect many more injuries. We'll see tomorrow."

Residents of Bukoba had said earlier that some houses there had caved in, and Mr Augustine Ollomi, the Kagera province police chief in charge of the Bukoba district, said "rescue operations are ongoing".

The epicentre of the quake, which took place at 9.27am local time (2.27pm Singapore time), was about 25km east of the north-western town of Nsunga on the border of Lake Victoria, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Earthquakes are fairly common in the Great Lakes region but are almost always of low intensity.

An Agence France-Presse (AFP) correspondent in Dar es Salaam whose mother's family lives in Bukoba said 10 family houses had collapsed. "My brother was driving around town, suddenly he felt the ground shaking and people started running and buildings collapsed," he said.

The quake rattled the entire north-west province of Kagera.

Parts of Mwanza region further south also felt the quake but there was no impact.

Ms Emelensiana Benjamin, a resident of the Kagera region, said the earthquake left houses with huge cracks. "The situation is worrying because some of the houses could fall down any time," she told Xinhua.

She said the earthquake was also reported in the Simiyu and Mara regions, adding that many people ran from their houses when the earthquake hit.

No damage had been reported in the economic capital, Dar es Salaam, which is located some 1,400km south-east of Bukoba.

"It's safe in Dar but we are still worried about the safety of our family," the AFP correspondent added.

"The regional hospital is overwhelmed and can't handle any more patients. Emergency operations are poor and the government isn't saying anything," he said.

The earthquake was felt as far away as Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya, the USGS said.

"The walls of my home shook as well as the fridge and the cupboards," said an AFP correspondent in the Ugandan capital Kampala.

AFP journalists in the Democratic Republic of Congo said it was felt, though faintly, in Bukavu in the east, but not in nearby Goma or Lubumbashi.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2016, with the headline 'Quake in Tanzania kills at least 13, injures 203'. Print Edition | Subscribe