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Earthquake Strikes Western Germany
2004 12 06

BERLIN, Germany -- An earthquake struck western Germany near the French border early Sunday, but there were no reports of major damage or injuries, officials said.

The magnitude 5.4 quake, with an epicenter near the German town of Waldkirch, occurred about 2:52 a.m. (0152 GMT), Germany's geological center in Freiburg said.

France's national seismological center had earlier reported that the quake had a 4.9 magnitude.

German and French authorities said hundreds of people telephoned seeking information about the temblor, but there were no reports of major damage or injuries.

The earthquake could be felt in a 250-kilometer (150-mile) radius, seismologist Wolfgang Bruestle said. He said the epicenter was lucky to escape much damage.

"That is really amazing for this strength," Bruestle said.

A magnitude 4 temblor can shake houses and buildings, while an earthquake registering magnitude 5 can cause more extensive damage if centered in a residential area.

Theo Gluminski, who runs a hotel in Kollnau, near Waldkirch, said that the earthquake felt strong, even though there was no damage.

"I thought that the ceiling was going to fly away and the whole place was going to collapse," he said.

The last earthquake of similar magnitude was in France in February 2003, Bruestle said. There were no injuries in that quake.

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