2008 Lake Kivu earthquake

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2008 Lake Kivu earthquake
2008 Lake Kivu earthquake.jpg
Date February 3, 2008 (2008-02-03)
Magnitude 5.9 Mw
Depth 10 kilometres (6 mi)
Epicenter 2°18′50″S 28°53′46″E / 2.314°S 28.896°E / -2.314; 28.896
Areas affected Rwanda
DR Congo
Casualties 44 dead, 349+ injured[1][2]

The 2008 Lake Kivu earthquake shook several countries in Africa's Great Lakes region at 07:34:12 (GMT) on February 3. It measured 5.9 on the moment magnitude scale according to the United States Geological Survey[3] and lasted about 15 seconds.[4][5] The epicentre was 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of Bukavu at Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo.[5]

Tectonic summary[edit]

According to the USGS,[6]

The earthquake occurred in the Western Rift of the East African rift system. The East African rift system is a diffuse, approximately 3000-km-long, zone of crustal extension that passes through eastern Africa from Djibouti and Eritrea on the north to Malawi on the south and that constitutes the boundary between the Africa plate on the west and the Somalia plate on the east. At the earthquake's latitude, the Africa and Somalia plates are spreading apart at a rate of about four millimeters per year. The earthquake occurred near Lake Kivu, the basin of which was created by normal faulting similar to that which produced the February 3 earthquake. The largest earthquake to have occurred in the rift system since 1900 had a magnitude of about 7.6. The epicenter of the February 3, 2008, earthquake is within several tens of kilometres (miles) of the epicenter of a magnitude 6.2 earthquake that killed two people in Goma in October 2002. Earthquakes within the East African rift system occur as the result of both normal faulting and strike-slip faulting.


At least 25 people are confirmed dead in Rwanda, with a further 200 seriously injured. Ten people were killed when a church collapsed in the Rusizi District of Western Province in Rwanda, according to Rwanda radio.[7] In the Democratic Republic of Congo they have confirmed at least 5 dead and 149 seriously injured.[8]

The earthquake was felt in Burundi, causing a break in the electricity supply, and as far as the Kenyan capital Nairobi.[5][9]

Similar earthquakes[edit]

Other notable 5.9 MW earthquakes
Date Areas affected Notes Fatalities
October 1, 1987 Southern California,  United States see 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake 8
October 31, 2002  Italy (Molise) see 2002 Molise earthquake 28
May 24, 2008  Colombia (near Bogota) see May 2008 Colombia earthquake 33


  1. ^ "Earthquakes kill 39 in Rwanda, Congo - CNN.com". Archived from the original on September 26, 2008. 
  2. ^ http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqarchives/year/2008/2008_deaths.php
  3. ^ "Magnitude 5.9 - LAC KIVU REGION, DEM. REP. OF THE CONGO". USGS. 2008-02-03. Archived from the original on 2008-02-04. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  4. ^ "At least 21 die in Rwanda quake". Reuters. 2008-02-03. Archived from the original on 13 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  5. ^ a b c "Deadly earthquake shakes Rwanda". BBC Online. 2008-02-03. Archived from the original on 4 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  6. ^ http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/recenteqsww/Quakes/us2008mzam.php#summary Archived February 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "23 dead in Rwanda earthquake: radio". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  8. ^ "Death toll from Rwanda, Congo quakes hits 30". Reuters. 2008-02-03. Archived from the original on 13 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  9. ^ "5.0-magnitude quake hits Rwanda, Congo, hundreds injured". Earthtimes. Retrieved 2008-02-03. [dead link]

External links[edit]