Earthquake tremors trigger Cairns tower evacuation
Office workers rushed to the fire escapes of a Cairns tower while tables banged on walls as tremors from a monster earthquake were felt in Far North Queensland.
The magnitude-7.5 earthquake struck in the Banda Sea off Indonesia about 11am today, causing tremors in Darwin that lasted about five minutes.
Buildings also shook as far away as Cairns.
Mark Keowski was in the Cape Flattery Silica Mine's office on the 15th floor of the Cairns Corporate Tower when he realised something was amiss.
"The tables were swaying and knocking against the walls," he said.
"We walked outside to see if everyone else had felt it and made the decision to get out.
"Everyone seemed to make the same call because there were a lot of people trying to get down the stairs.
"It was swaying for a good 20 seconds."
Mr Keowski said office workers stayed downstairs for about five minutes before returning to work.
"There were probably about 100 people down there with the same idea," he said.
"Nothing was out of place, there was just a lot of knocking and the blinds were banging."
Migration Plus Network migration assistant Mena Kulanthavelu was a few floors down on the 12th floor when she felt the same strange phenomenon.
"The curtains were moving and you could feel everything shaking," she said.
"We decided to use the fire exit to get downstairs and outside.
"We were there for about five minutes then everything was good."
Ms Kulanthavelu said she had lived in Cairns for three years and had never felt anything like it before.
"It was a bit scary," she said.
"My husband works at the aquarium and he didn't feel anything, so it must have just been in the tall buildings."
The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre has stated the mainland is not at risk of being hit by a tsunami.
Geoscience Australia says the earthquake hit at a depth of 213km.
Darwin resident Michael O'Brien told the NT News the earthquake came at an awkward time for him.
"I'm a little bit shocked. I was sitting on the loo and the loo started to vibrate and I thought 'what the hell's going on here'," he said.
"Is there really any good time for it to come?"
A group of nurses at the Royal Darwin Hospital took to their knees and prayed during the scare.