The earthquake was reported at around noon on Tuesday morning, and tremors were felt throughout the 93-mile-area between Lyon and Montelimar. The National Centre for Seismic Surveillance of Strasbourg said the epicentre of the earthquake was located 10 kilometres from Montélimar.
In the evening, fears were heightened over the news that three reactors from the Cruas-Meysse nuclear plant, in the Ardeche, would be blocked a few hours to make sure they had not been damaged.
According to the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), the earthquake did not cause “apparent damage” to the buildings of the plant, and the plant continued to work normally.
Authorities said four people were injured by the unusually strong quake, including a 45-year-old man who was seriously injured after falling from a scaffold when he was working in Privas, some 25 kilometres from the quake’s epicentre.
A further three people in the Ardeche region were slightly injured.
5.4-magnitude is an unusually strong for this region, the agency reported. Earthquakes on the whole are a rarity in France.
Since 1980, only about ten earthquakes whose magnitude was greater than 5 and whose epicentre was located in metropolitan France have been recorded.
Mustapha Meghraoui of the geophysics institute IPGP’s office in Strasbourg said quakes in this region are rarely higher than Magnitude 5.
“We can say that this is a rare one.”
France 24 reported that according to messages posted on social media, a slight jolt was felt in Montpellier, Lyon, St Etienne, Grenoble, Avignon and Marseille.