Category: world
Updated: 07/11/16 : 15:21:06

World :: Oklahoma town rocked by possible fracking earthquake

The downtown area of Cushing was evacuated as building facades crumbled
A 5.0-magnitude earthquake has struck near a major oil hub in Oklahoma, damaging several buildings, forcing evacuations and fuelling fears over energy production.

The quake was centred two miles (3.2km) west of Cushing, a small city of intersecting oil pipelines that is considered a hub for crude oil shipment.

It struck at 7.44pm local time on Sunday and was felt as far away as Iowa, Illinois and Texas.

A few injuries were reported, but authorities said they were minor.

Most of the damage appeared to be contained to the downtown area. The quake brought down building facades and shattered windows.

Concrete fell from buildings and products were shaken from supermarket shelves.

The area was evacuated due to gas leaks and to allow infrastructure inspection, and Cushing High School also cancelled classes to assess damage.

"I thought my whole trailer was going to tip over, it was shaking it so bad," said Cushing resident Cindy Roe, 50.

"It was loud and all the lights went out and you could hear things falling on the ground.

"It was awful and I don't want to have another one."

Cushing's oil storage terminal is one of the world's largest.

Pipeline companies did not report any damage, but the assessment was continuing.

The quake was among the larger temblors felt recently in Oklahoma, part of a flurry of seismic activity geologists say is linked to energy production.

Most earthquakes occur naturally, but scientists have long linked some smaller quakes to oil and gas work underground, which can alter pressure points and cause shifts in the earth.

In a report released last year, the Oklahoma Geological Survey said that the earthquakes were linked to the practice of injecting wastewater from oil production into the ground.

Some of that is related to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves injecting water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into rock to extract natural gas or other products.

The report said fracking was responsible for only a small percentage of the wastewater injected into wells in Oklahoma.