According to Geoscience Australia, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck near Melbourne, one of the country's strongest on record, causing damage to structures in the country's second-largest city and sending tremors across neighboring states.
The quake's center was near the rural town of Mansfield in Victoria, some 200 kilometers (124 miles) northeast of Melbourne, at a depth of 10 kilometers (six miles). A 4.0 aftershock was recorded.
Images and video footage circulating on social media showed rubble blocking one of Melbourne's main streets. At the same time, residents in the city's northern reaches reported losing power and being evacuated from buildings.
The quake was felt as far away as Adelaide, 800 kilometers (500 miles) to the west in the state of South Australia, and Sydney, 900 kilometers (600 miles) to the north in the state of New South Wales. However, no damage or injuries were reported outside of Melbourne.
More than half of Australia's 25 million people dwell in the southeast, from Adelaide to Melbourne to Sydney.
"We have had no reports of serious injuries, or worse," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Washington. "That is very good news, and we hope that good news will continue."
"An earthquake of this magnitude can be a very traumatic experience. They are quite rare occurrences in Australia, and I'm sure many were concerned and disturbed as a result."
According to Geoscience Australia, quakes are relatively uncommon in Australia's populated east due to its location amid the Indo-Australian Tectonic Plate. The tremor on Wednesday was more substantial than the country's deadliest, a 5.6 in Newcastle in 1989 that killed 13 people.
o major damage
Mark Holcombe, the mayor of Mansfield, claimed he was in his home office on his farm when the earthquake hit and went outside for protection.
"I have been in earthquakes overseas before and it seemed to go on longer than I have experienced before," Holcombe told the ABC. "Another thing that startled me was the level of noise. It sounded like a large vehicle was passing by."
Although some residents reported telecommunications problems, he knew of no severe damage around the epicenter.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology announced that no tsunami warnings had been issued for the country's mainland, islands, or territories.
The quake posed a threat to anti-lockdown rallies planned for Wednesday in Melbourne, which would be the third day of disturbance with growing levels of violence and police response.