Earthquake in Western France: Strong Tremor with a Magnitude between 5.3 and 5.8, Material Damage Recorded

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An earthquake shook western France on Friday June 16, 2023 around 6:30 p.m

The earthquake, with an epicentre halfway between La Rochelle and Niort, was felt from Bordeaux to Saint-Malo

It was 6:38 p.m. when the building began to shake. A slight ripple cast a silence in our little editorial office. In the heat and humidity of a Friday evening, the earth shook in Rennes. The Breton capital is not the only one to have been affected. According to the testimonies of Internet users, the earthquake was also felt in Nantes, Angers and Bordeaux.

It was around Niort that the earthquake was most powerful. According to the National Seismic Monitoring Network (Renass), the epicentre was located a few kilometres from the capital of Deux-Sèvres, in the town of Cram-Chaban (Charente-Maritime), with a magnitude between 5, 3 and 5.8.

One minor injury and material damage

In Deux-Sèvres, “a lightly injured person was taken care of by the emergency services”, according to a report from the prefecture which reports material damage to buildings, mainly cracks and falling stones, such as that of Charente- Maritime, where no casualties were recorded by the emergency services.

On the other hand, more than a thousand homes were without electricity in this department at the start of the evening, a high voltage line having been affected according to the authorities.

Helplines saturated

The Charente-Maritime firefighters, “faced with a large number of calls”, published a press release asking to “contact the emergency services only out of emergency”. “This event was detected automatically and needs to be confirmed by one of our analysts”, warns Renass. The city of Niort called on its inhabitants not to panic after this shock. According to France Bleu, pieces of stone fell in Niort. The police cordoned off the perimeter.

On social networks, the inhabitants of the west of France quickly expressed their surprise. “My daughter screamed because the windows were shaking. Me, I was on the sofa, it was really moving a lot, ”says a Rennes woman. “I was listening to music with headphones when I saw my TV moving. I felt my butt vibrate too. I threw away my headphones and prayed for everything to be back to normal. It lasted a few seconds, ”says a resident of the outskirts of Rennes. “The house cracked everywhere,” adds Marine.

Among the biggest earthquakes ever recorded in mainland France

This earthquake is in the top 10 of the strongest tremors of recent decades in metropolitan France. On average, there is one every 10 years in metropolitan France,” Jérôme Vergne, a seismologist at the Earth and Environment Institute in Strasbourg, told AFP. “In the region, the last of a fairly similar magnitude dates back to 1972 in Oléron. So for the region of the great west, it is really an important event, ”he added.

The largest earthquake recorded in mainland France took place in 1909 around the town of Lambesc (Bouches-du-Rhône) with a magnitude of 6.2 on the Richter scale. It killed 46 people and injured 250.

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