The Queensland Government has warned people to be prepared for a magnitude 6.6 earthquake that has hit the Sunshine State’s central coast and is expected to be felt as far away as Victoria.
The epicentre of the quake is just north of the coastal town of Wollongong.
The magnitude 6 quake was first reported in southern Queensland on Thursday afternoon.
“The earthquake is very shallow and has only a small area of concern,” Queensland Emergency Services Queensland (QEMSQ) said in a statement.
“We advise people to remain in their homes and do not go outside.”
A small area has been quarantined for the next few hours at the Wollongs Creek community, but residents are encouraged to check in on social media to check for updates.
The QEMSQ said the quake will likely be felt by people across Queensland, and there will be a strong likelihood of some damage.
“This will cause significant damage and disruption for many Queensland communities,” the statement said.
“Residents are urged to stay away from windows and doors.”
It also advised people to make sure their pets are in a secure area, and that pets are not allowed in enclosed spaces.
Residents are urged not to feed pets and to stay home until further notice.
The Government’s warning is in stark contrast to the state’s response to a series of earthquakes in recent years, with residents in some areas being told to stay inside for up to six hours after shaking.
The Queensland government said in November last year that residents in Wollons Creek, and many other Queensland towns, had been warned to stay indoors after a 6.2 magnitude quake, and the State Government was sending emergency workers to the area to help with the response.
Queensland’s Department of Emergency Services said the latest quake was the strongest to hit the area since March 2012, when a magnitude 5.7 quake hit the city of Maroochydore.
“People are advised to stay in their home and take all precautionary measures,” the QEMSRQ said.
It added that while the quake was a mild earthquake, there were no immediate reports of damage.
Residents have also been urged to monitor social media for updates and to report any suspicious activity.
The State Government has also asked people not to travel into the area, while local residents have been urged not enter homes, businesses, or parks unless they are fully secure.
Residents in the area are advised not to leave children unattended.
Emergency services have warned that a strong earthquake could hit the region on Saturday.
“If you are going to travel to the affected areas and you do not know the location of the earthquake, you will have to wait for the area and for the local authorities to provide information,” the Department of Local Government and Regional Services (DLGRRS) said on Twitter.
Residents in Wolls Creek have been advised to remain indoors until further information is available.
Queensland’s Emergency Services Agency (QESA) tweeted that it was warning residents to be vigilant and to be on the lookout for any unusual activity.
It also urged residents to make a list of their most recent movements and check social media sites for updates about the earthquake.
The State Government said it was working with the Queensland Emergency Service (QEMA) to provide a number of resources to assist local communities in the lead up to and following the earthquake including: Emergency services will be on hand at the site, including in the community centres, and on the roads to assist with traffic management.