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Earthquake hits South Africa

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 centred in Orkney, 170 kilometres (105 miles) southwest of Johannesburg, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

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 centre of gold-mining operations. Mine managers ordered the evacuation of workers from shafts and there were no reports of casualties underground, Vermaak said.

Another emergency responder, Russel Meiring, said later that the mining area had been deemed safe and miners were returning to work.

Three people were hurt when the quake damaged a training centre 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.

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.

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.

The Canadian Press

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