A strong earthquake hit East Africa on Tuesday, the latest in the region in several days, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The USGS said the quake struck in northern Tanzania, 167km from the western town of Arusha, and measured 6,1 on the Richter scale of magnitude.

The tremors could be felt more than 240km away in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where high-rise buildings shook gently for several minutes.

Kenya and Tanzania lie along the geologically active Great Rift Valley.

Residents in Nairobi said although this was the strongest jolt since Saturday, there was little sign of people evacuating buildings in panic.

"I was in the supermarket when I suddenly started to feel dizzy," said 22-year-old David Chege.

The last time a major earthquake shook the region was December 2005, which registered 6,8 on the Richter scale. That sent many people in high-rise buildings in Nairobi scurrying into the streets.