The shallow quake struck east of the country’s second-largest city just after 9 a.m. local time and was felt hundreds of kilometers away.
The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 5.8 on the Richter scale, later revised to 5.9, and said the quake occurred at a depth of 10 kilometers.
Building debris littered the streets of the popular shopping area around Melbourne’s Chapel Street, with bricks appearing to be detached from the building.
Zume Phim, 33, owner of the Oppen cafe in Melbourne, said he was rushing into the street when the quake hit.
“The whole building shook. All the windows, the glass, shook like a shock wave,” he told AFP France24.
“I’ve never experienced that before. It was a little scary,” he added.
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Earthquakes of sizeable magnitude are not uncommon in southeastern Australia.