Australia: Earthquake - Dec 1989

Past disaster

Disaster description

At 10.27am on Thursday, 28 December 1989, Newcastle was devastated by an ML 5.6 (MW 5.4) earthquake. This was one of the most significant natural disasters in Australia's history. The epicentre was approximately 15 km SW of the Newcastle CBD (near Boolaroo) and the focus was calculated to be at a depth of about 11 km. The earthquake claimed 13 lives: nine people died at the Newcastle Workers Club, three people were killed along Beaumont Street in Hamilton, and one person died of shock. 300,000 people were affected and 1,000 were made homeless. 50,000 buildings were damaged (approximately 35,000 of these were homes). 160 people required hospitalisation, while the Royal Newcastle Hospital was evacuated. It left a damage bill estimated over $4 billion (Insurance Council of Australia) - normalised to 2017 values. One aftershock (ML 2.1) was recorded on 29 December 1989 (Gov't of Australia, 28 Dec 2019)

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