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UPDATE 1-Malawi shaken by new tremors in uranium mine area
December 7, 2009 / 5:18 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Malawi shaken by new tremors in uranium mine area

* Six injured in northern Malawi tremors

* Earthquakes measure between 5.1 and 5.8

* Tremors ended at 1000 GMT on Monday

(Adds details, quotes)

BLANTYRE, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Earth tremors hit Malawi for a second day on Monday and police said at least six people had been injured, two seriously, and buildings damaged in the uranium-rich northern Karonga district.

Hundreds of people fled their homes when an earthquake first struck on Sunday but output at Kayelekera uranium mine, owned by Australian Paladin Energy was not affected.

“We can confirm that the tremors were felt, but did not occasion any damage or anything of concern to mine operations. Everything is normal,” Neville Huxman, a spokesman for Paladin Energy, told Reuters.

Exports of yellow cake are expected to earn the poor southern African state some $200 million in 2009, according to Finance Minister Ken Kandodo.

Authorities in Karonga are on high alert in the aftermath of the tremors which on Sunday injured six people, two seriously, and caused extensive damage to houses, schools and some government offices.

Karonga District Assembly Chief Executive Officer Gasten Macheka told Reuters the district had evacuated people from their homes for fear of a recurrence.

“We have advised them not to sleep in their houses and are providing shelters outside our offices. We have also formed a task force that is monitoring events,” he said.

Preliminary assessments showed the damage was extensive at Karonga Central Business District but the impact was mild in other areas.

“A lot of residential and institutional houses have been damaged. Some have collapsed while some have developed cracks,” he said.

Macheka said the tremors in Karonga, with a population of about 270,000 people, started at 1930 GMT on Sunday and continued until 1000 GMT on Monday. Residents in Mzuzu, Malawi’s third largest city about 150 km (about 95 miles) south of Karonga, also felt them.

Karonga police spokesman Enock Levason earlier told Reuters a woman and her child had been referred to Mzuzu Central hospital after a wall in their house fell on them. Four other people were being treated at a district hospital.

Director of the Malawi Geological Survey Leonard Kalindekafe said his department had recorded 12 occurrences of tremors and continued to monitor the situation.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported four earthquakes measuring between 5.1 and 5.8.

In 1989, a 6.6 earthquake killed at least 9 people and injured 100 in central Malawi and left another 50,000 homeless, according to the USGS. (Reporting by Frank Phiri; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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