The Sandton skyline in Johannesburg. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
The Sandton skyline in Johannesburg. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

A 5.5-MAGNITUDE earthquake hit central South Africa on Tuesday, shaking buildings in various parts of the country.

The Council for Geosciences in South Africa confirmed the magnitude of the earthquake on Monday, after the United States Geological Survey earlier reported it being a 5.3-magnitude quake.

The council could not say why the US had a lower figure.

"It was a 5.5-magnitude quake," said Michelle Grobbelaar, manager of the council's seismology unit.

"It occurred in the Stilfontein, Klerksdorp, and Orkney region and it was quite widely felt... as far as the Eastern Cape."

She said more tremors and aftershocks were expected in the coming days.

"We are monitoring. It will continue for days, if not months," she said.

In the event of another tremor, as a precaution, Ms Grobbelaar said those who believed their life was in danger should take precautions and evacuate buildings to be on the safe side.

The US Geological Survey said the tremor was centred in Orkney, 120km southwest of Johannesburg, an area with a high concentration of deep gold mines.

Officials at AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Gold Fields and Sibanye Gold said they had felt the tremors in their headquarters but had so far received no reports of anything untoward in their mines.

The area around Johannesburg and to its south is home to some of the deepest gold mines in the world.

At Durban Bay House, one of the tallest buildings in the city, people had evacuated the building.

People immediately took to social media to report it.

"Who else just felt the earthquake. That was a crazy ... tremor," said Johannesburg resident Adrian Patrick on Facebook.

"Here in Durban too," responded Byron David.

Citizens from Johannesburg to KwaZulu-Natal, the North West and Cape Town reported feeling the tremor.

Reports of buildings being evacuated in Johannesburg, Umhlanga and other cities were also seen on Twitter.

The South African Weather Service could not immediately be reached for details on the tremor.

With Reuters and Sapa