SHOCKED residents were awoken by a “large bang” after an earthquake struck Essex.

The earthquake, with a magnitude of 2.6, was recorded to the south-east of Chelmsford in the early hours of the morning.

Residents in Bicknacre, Runwell and South Woodham Ferrers said they felt the earthquake this morning, just after 5am.

The epicentre was approximately 9km southeast of Chelmsford, in Bicknacre, close to the Royal Horticultural Society Garden Hyde Hall.

It was recorded at 5.05am, at a depth of 8km.

Earthquakes between 2 and 2.9 on the Richter Scale are described as minor and are often felt slightly by some people, but rarely cause damage to buildings.

There are estimated to be more than a million such earthquakes globally every year.

One resident said: “It was like an underground train underneath our bungalow."

Anthers said they were awoken by a "loud bang and rumble" and it sounded "like a piece of large furniture had fallen over".

On BBC Essex, South Woodham Ferrers resident Darren said: “It was just after 5am this morning there was a very loud bang.

“It was very strange. My son shot out of bed and we thought we were getting broken into.

“There were a few other neighbours out in the street who heard it.

“It was enough to wake us up, it was a big bang."

David, a resident from Sandon said: “It woke me up and all I can describe was a pretty big bang, it was as if someone had broken through our patio doors.

“It was a major bang.

“I went rushing downstairs but couldn’t see anything, but it was very loud.

“I don’t remember any vibration, just the big bang.”

Maureen, from Heybridge, said: “I heard it, it woke me up and I expected to get up this morning and find a dead pigeon because it was on our bedroom window that I felt it.

“It was a bang, but that was all I thought it could be.”