RESIDENTS across Oxfordshire were shaken during the early hours today by the biggest earthquake in the country in the past 20 years.

The quake shook the UK, causing damage to buildings and leaving at least one person injured.

Tremors hit the country about 1am and was measured at 5.2 on the Richter scale.

The earthquake's epicentre was near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, but the effects were felt in Oxfordshire, by residents in Marston and Jericho in Oxford, and in Abingdon, Bicester and Watlington.

As far away as Wales, Scotland and London, there were reports of residents being woken from their sleep.

Emergency services across England received a high number of calls following the incident, many from people who were frightened when they were woken up to find their home shaking.

The quake resulted in at least one injury. A man from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, required hospital treatment after a chimney collapsed and fell into his bedroom.

A spokeswoman for South Yorkshire Ambulance Service said: "We had an emergency call to Wombwell, Barnsley. A chimney had come through the bedroom roof."

A Lincolnshire Police spokesman said the force took dozens of calls from concerned residents but had no reports of anyone being injured.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) initially gave the magnitude for the 12.56am earthquake as 5.3 on the Richter scale but later said it was closer to 5.2.

It said the centre was five miles east of Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, and about 15 miles south west of Grimsby.

Seismologist Brian Baptie, of the BGS, said: "This is a significant earthquake for the UK and will have been widely felt across England and Wales."

A spokesman for Oxfordshire Fire Service said they received no emergency calls regarding the earthquake.

Humberside fire service took 200 calls from residents concerned about collapsed chimneys and damaged roofs.

The BGS said it records around 200 earthquakes in the UK each year - an eighth of which can be felt by residents.

Earthquakes of this size occur in the mainland UK around every 30 years but are more common in offshore areas.

Today's quake is the largest since 1984, when an earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale shook the Lleyn Peninsula of north Wales and was widely felt across England and Wales.

Last April, residents in Kent were hit by a similar tremor. Residents in five streets in Folkestone had to be evacuated due to structural damage as a result of the earthquake.

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