Darwin residents have reported buildings swaying and parts of the city center have been evacuated after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the city.

The epicenter of the earthquake was in the Banda Sea, north of Timor-Leste, on Monday and prompted reports of large tremors in the Top End city.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued an alert just after 1pm saying there was no tsunami threat to Australia following the earthquake.

Residents in Darwin reported large tremors and feeling tables shake, but there were no immediate reports of major damage or injury.

Jonathan Bathgate, a seismologist at Geoscience Australia, said the 7.2 magnitude earthquake occurred just before midday approximately 700km north of Darwin. The quake hit at a depth of about 200km below the sea.

“It was certainly something that was felt quite strongly in the Darwin CBD area,” he said.

Darwin resident Leah Potter told Guardian Australia it felt like “everything was rocking”.

“It felt like there were two,” she said. “First there was just a little one and my son came in wondering what was happening, then there was a pause and there was a really a big one and the place was rocking.

“We went outside and there were backpackers, I don’t know what country they were from, but they were holding on to the railing looking pretty scared. But yeah everything was rocking for a while.”

Palmerston resident Kavinda Weerachandra said some small cracks had appeared on his wall after the quake. He was at home working when “all of a sudden everything started shaking”.

“I didn’t think much of it first but as time goes [on] it got stronger,” he said.

“I can hear my house creaking and rattling. And things on my desk started to fall. And I was genuinely worried for my life for a second there.”

Parts of the city’s central business district were evacuated following the tremor.

Bathgate said earthquakes of that magnitude were not uncommon in the Banda Sea.

“We get magnitude sevens not often but on a regular sort of basis,” he said.

“The last magnitude seven in this area was in 2012 at 7.1, and prior to that there was a 7.1 in 2005. They happen sort of once every 10 years or even more frequently than that.”

theguardian.