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Quake shakes Zambia's copperbelt heartland, no damage

LUSAKA, Zambia (Reuters) -- An earthquake shook Zambia's rich copperbelt on Monday but no casualties or damage were reported, the country's top geologist said.

Davidson Mulela, director of Zambia's geological surveys department in the capital Lusaka, told Reuters: "The copperbelt towns of Kalulushi, Luanshya, Kitwe and Ndola experienced the tremors, which appear to have been fairly strong."

Sweden's Uppsala University said a quake measuring 6.6 on the Ricther scale had rocked southwestern Tanzania, with its epicenter near Lake Tanganyika. Mulela said the quake had lost some of its steam when it hit the copperbelt.

Mulela and senior meteorological department officials said the northern Zambian towns of Nakonde, Kaombwa, Tunduma, Mambwe, Sumbu, Mbala and Mpulungu were also hit by the quake.

"There is no damage in the copperbelt districts," Mulela said. "But our understanding is that there was heavy shaking."

Copper is the leading export, major foreign currency earner and a noted employer in this largely impoverished southern African country of 10 million people.

Meteorological officials said it was difficult to quantify measurements because equipment was in a poor state of repair.

One Zambian journalist in Kitwe said the tremor was strong and woke up many residents.

"I was in a hotel room. The building really shook. It went on for several minutes," the journalist told Reuters by phone.

The copperbelt as well as northern Zambia are on Africa's rift system and are vulnerable to earth quakes, Mulela said.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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