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Earthquake shakes the Swiss canton of Vaud

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Earthquake shakes the Swiss canton of Vaud
The epicentre was close to Chateau d'Oex. Image: Swiss Seismological Service
09:05 CEST+02:00
An earthquake of magnitude 4.3 hit the mountain town of Chateau d'Oex in the canton of Vaud on Saturday morning.
The quake hit at 10.10am at a shallow depth of 4km, said the Swiss Seismological Service (SED). 
 
It was felt across the region, with the SED receiving more than 1,300 reports from concerned people in Vevey, Montreux, Fribourg and Bulle, and even as far as Aigle and Sion in the Valais.
 
Vaud police also received some 30 calls, reported news agencies. 
 
The quake's relatively shallow depth and its proximity to built-up areas meant it had the potential to create damage, however none was reported and no one was injured.
 
Seismic activity in that area has been elevated since last year, said the SED, though Saturday's earthquake was “clearly stronger” than recent activity. 
 
The quake is “part of a sequence that we expect will continue with lower magnitude events that will last for weeks, or even months,” it said.
 
“An event as strong as that of Saturday or even stronger cannot be ruled out but has a relatively low probability.”
 
On average a quake of magnitude 4 or above hits Switzerland once a year, however this year the country has already experienced more than one. 
 
In March a quake of 4.6 struck in the canton of Glarus, the country's biggest earthquake for 12 years.
 
 
Earthquakes are common in Switzerland, with around 500-800 occurring every year, but most are so light they can't be felt.
 
Around ten quakes of between 3 and 4 magnitude hit the country every year while strong earthquakes, classified of 6 magnitude or above, occur once every 50-150 years.
 
The last, a 6.2, hit Sierre in 1946, meaning Switzerland is due another large one by around 2040, geologists have said.
 
The risk of serious seismic events occurring in Switzerland is classed as moderate to medium, but earthquakes are nevertheless considered by the Swiss environment office as the country's greatest natural hazard. The potential cost of damage from a magnitude 7 quake could be as high as 60 billion francs, it has said.
 
The canton of Valais is most at risk from earthquakes, followed by the Basel region, Graubünden, St Gallen and central Switzerland.
 
The country's strongest documented earthquake, a 6.6, hit Basel in 1356.

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