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South Africa earthquake: One dead and miners trapped below surface

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake struck 105 miles southwest of Johannesburg Tuesday. One man died and there are reports of miners trapped in Orkney.

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The US Geological Survey recorded a magnitude 5.3 earthquake near Orkney, 105 miles southwest of Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday.

US Geological Survey

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An earthquake shook buildings in Johannesburg and surrounding areas in South Africa's most populous province on Tuesday. At least one person was killed and three were injured, medical staff said.

The magnitude-5.3 quake was centered in Orkney, 170 kilometers (105 miles) southwest of Johannesburg, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

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One man died when a wall of a disused mining building fell on him, said Werner Vermaak, a spokesman for emergency responders working in the Orkney area, a center of gold-mining operations. Mine managers ordered the evacuation of workers from shafts and there were no immediate reports of casualties underground, Vermaak said.

Three people were hurt when the quake damaged a training center at a mine, said Phoka Sefali, a receptionist at a hospital in Orkney.

"The roof fell on them, but they haven't got serious injuries," he said.

Hospital staff were on standby, awaiting the outcome of safety checks on miners who were underground at the time of the earthquake, Sefali said.

The Johannesburg Times reports that some miners are trapped below the surface at Orkney:

ER24 spokeswoman Luyanda Majija said they had received reports that the tremor had had a significant impact on one mine.

"Our crew is heading to the mine where miners are reported to trapped at 11 shafts," said Majija.

Quakes are a concern to mining companies that operate around Johannesburg, the biggest city in Gauteng province. Mining is a traditional pillar of industry in South Africa.

Lindy Sirayi, a guesthouse owner in Orkney, said the tremor broke glass lampshades and cracked a wall, and that dogs started barking during the quake, which lasted about a minute. Aftershocks were felt, but the electricity in the guesthouse stayed on, Sirayi said.

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The quake was also felt in Pretoria, the South African capital, and Hartbeespoort, a nearby resort town.

The area has periodic, moderate tremors, though the quake on Tuesday was one of the strongest in recent years.

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