4.4-magnitude quake panics northern Vietnam

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A map from the Vietnam National Geophysics Institute shows in red the epicenter of the earthquake that hit northern Vietnam Wednesday morning

A 4.4-magnitude earthquake that struck Hai Phong Wednesday morning was felt all the way in Hanoi 100 km away, and sparked panic in many places in northern Vietnam.

The Earthquake and Tsunami Warning Center at the Vietnam National Geophysics Institute said the tremor was felt at around 10:19 a.m., news website Dan Tri reported.

The earthquake began 15 kilometers under the ground and lasted around 10 seconds.

No damage has been reported but panic ensued.

Linh of Hai Phong said she felt the tremor while sitting in a first-floor café, and saw computers, books, and cups on the table shaking.

Tran Hong Minh of Bac Ninh Province said on Facebook that her single-storied house shook "terribly."

The tremor was reported from all over downtown Hanoi. Many high-rise buildings saw residents panic.

Vu Hong Hieu, who works in the second floor of the Foreign Ministry building in Ba Dinh District, said the tremor was strong but brief. "I felt a loss of balance ... Like sitting in a bus," he said.

Tran Ngan Luong, another office worker in Hanoi, said: "First I saw the computer screen shaking, then books on the table moved, and then the chair moved."

A woman named Nga said she was sleeping on the third floor and felt like someone was shaking her bed for more than 10 seconds.

The earthquake center recorded another earthquake off the northern coast at the magnitude of 3.3 at 3:15 p.m., which started 10 kilometers underground. The center experts said both earthquakes are weak and not dangerous.

On March 24 last year Hanoi was hit by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that had its epicenter in Myanmar 550-600 kilometers away.

Earthquakes are rare in Vietnam, and few civilian buildings are equipped to withstand large ones.

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