United States

Earthquake shakes eastern US

Reuters/Brendan McDermid
2 min

A rare earthquake rocked the eastern United States Tuesday afternoon, with aftershocks surging up to New York and Washington, DC. The quake damaged old buildings and caused mass evacuations, but there are no known casualties. 


The 5.8-magnitude quake lasted 20-30 seconds and had an epicentre 3.7 miles under the town of Mineral, Virginia, according to the National Earthquake Information Centre. It was felt as far north as Boston, as far south as Alabama, and as far west as Indiana and Michigan.

The earthquake was Virginia’s most powerful since 1897.

In the region, many workers fled offices and poured into the street, fearing that the violent swaying and crumbling walls and ceilings were a sign of a repeat terrorism attack. The area is soon to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 11 September Al-Qaeda attacks.

“I was in the street when the ground shook and I looked up to see the building shaking like a tuning fork,” resident Mary Daley told the AFP news agency in New York.

At the Pentagon in the nation’s capital, workers were briefly evacuated but officials said there was no damage to the building other than a ruptured water line.

Bricks fell from the roof of the embassy of Ecuador in Washington, wrecking the window of a parked car. Brick walls and chimneys also toppled in Baltimore and Northern Virginia. In Washington, the National Cathedral lost part of its neo-Gothic spires.

Scientists said that the harder, more brittle quality of the ground on the east coast explained why the earthquake affected such a large area, in comparison to those on the more quake-prone west coast.

President Barack Obama, who was on vacation in nearby Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts, did not feel the quake as he was playing golf.

Deputy White House spokesman Josh Earnest briefed the president on the fact that  "there are no initial reports of major infrastructure damage, including at airports and nuclear facilities."

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