90 damage reports after latest Groningen quake

Milieudefensie and Groningen residents dump fracking earthquake rubble in front of the Ministry of Economic Affairs in The Hague, 26 Oct 2017
Milieudefensie and Groningen residents dump fracking earthquake rubble in front of the Ministry of Economic Affairs in The Hague, 26 Oct 2017Photo: @milieudefensie / Twitter

The Temporary Committee on Mining Damage in Groningen received 90 damage reports on Wednesday after a 3.4 magnitude earthquake hit the province near the village of Westerwijwerd early in the morning. There were also 12 reports of potentially acutely dangerous situations, NU.nl reports.

Normally, the Committee receives around 30 reports of damage, such as cracks in the walls, each day. A special team was sent out to immediately investigate the potentially dangerous situations. And the Committee deployed extra people to answer the phones. "People call with questions, to report damage, but also just to be able to tell their story", a spokesperson said to the newspaper.

The waterboards in the province are inspecting dikes, quays, pumping stations and locks to ensure that the earthquake didn't cause any damage. 

Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the earthquake "terrible" on WNL program Goedemorgen Nederland. He said that in the 1950s everyone was still very optimistic about gas extraction, but it has now "turned into a nightmare".

The quake was felt in a wide area in the province. "I think like me, half of the province of Groningen startled awake", Ger Warink from Loppersum, around 6.5 kilometers away from the epicenter in Westerwijwerd, said to NOS on Wednesday morning. "You hear rumbling. Something falling in the cupboard, then you're up. It took a total of about four seconds." He hasn't had time to check for damages yet. "But the damage will undoubtedly be there."

Warink told the broadcaster that he has experienced some 350 earthquakes. "It has already torn and sagged. We are so done with it. We don't know anymore."

Jos Walstra from the city of Groningen, some 18 kilometers away from the epicenter, also felt the earthquake. "I was having breakfast in the kitchen and then I heard a blow. Then I went to the bathroom and it was like the toilet was thundering out from beneath me", he said to NOS.

More than a thousand earthquakes have been registered in the province of Groningen since the 1990s, according to NU.nl. Some tremors were barely noticeable, others led to damage. Wednesday's quake was in the top 3 strongest ever to hit the province. That record goes to a 3.6 magnitude earthquake near Huizinge in 2012.

In January last year, another 3.4 magnitude earthquake hit the village of Zeerijp, also in the municipality of Loppersum. That earthquake led to measures accelerating the phasing out of natural gas  extraction in the province. A few months later, the Dutch government that gas extraction in Groningen will be reduced to zero by 2030.