J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
Office workers gather on the sidewalk in front of Building…
Earthquake strikes Eastern seaboard
By Liz Goodwin
National Affairs Reporter
By Liz Goodwin | The Lookout – 3 hrs ago
A 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck Mineral, Virginia, 87 miles outside of Washington, D.C., today. You can see the White House appear to shake as the Secret Service walks on its roof in the video above.
Shaking could be felt from Toronto to New York all the way to North Carolina at close to 2 p.m. this afternoon. The quake lasted 45 seconds, and is one of the largest ever to hit the East Coast.
The Pentagon, Capitol and White House were all evacuated, according to the Associated Press.
Roll Call says the Capitol was evacuated after staffers saw “chandeliers…swinging from side to side.” According to an eyewitness on Twitter, the National Cathedral is damaged, with some of its stones falling off altogether.
But no fatalities have been reported so far, and the damage appears to be relatively minimal.
Many people trying to make cell phone calls in the area reported having trouble finding service. Craig Fugate, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, used Twitter to ask Washington residents to “try to stay off your cell phone if it is not an emergency.”
Office workers stood outside Dupont Circle in Washington, waiting to be allowed back in to their buildings after the tremor, reports Laura Rozen, who writes The Envoy blog for Yahoo! News. While there were reports that the National Monument was “tilted,” Yahoo! Ticket reporter Chris Moody went to the scene and found it looking fine. The grounds within 1,000 feet of the monument were closed, he reported.
Two nuclear reactors in Virginia were automatically shut off after the quake, but no damage has been reported, according to Reuters . A nuclear power plant near the epicenter of the quake is designed to survive up to a 6.1-magnitude quake, according to the People’s Alliance for Clean Energy.
This video shows cars crushed from falling bricks in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia:
credit: yahoo news
Earthquake Listed at 5.9 Rattles East Coast From Virginia to New Hampshire By JESSICA HOPPER (@jesshop23) Aug. 23, 2011
A 5.9 magnitude earthquake jolted the East Coast, rattling people from Martha’s Vineyard to Washington, D.C. to North Carolina, prompting the evacuation of Congressional buildings, slowing rail and air traffic, and taking two nuclear reactors offline.
The earthquake sent people pouring out of office buildings, hospitals, the Pentagon and the State Department when it struck at 1:51 p.m. The pillars of the capitol in Washington, D.C. shook. Alarms sounded in the FBI and Department of Justice buildings, and some flooding was reported on an upper floor of the Pentagon as a result of the quake.
Parks and sidewalks in Washington were packed with people who fled their buildings. All of the monuments along the National Mall have been closed. Police on horseback kept people a safe distance from the Washington Monument and the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.
National Parks Service Spokesman Jeffrey Olson told the Associated Press that there was “absolutely no damage” to the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial or other tourist destinations along the Mall.
The National Cathedral suffered damage to at least three of the cathedral’s pinnacles, Dean of the Cathedral Samuel Lloyd said. The cathedral has been cordoned off with yellow police tape as a precaution.
Officials inspected Congressional buildings before members of Congress and their staff were allowed to return to their offices.
Office workers gather on the sidewalk in downtown Washington, D.C., Aug. 23, 2011, moments after a 5.9 magnitude tremor shook the nation’s capital. The quake was felt as far north as New Hampshire and in Martha’s Vineyard where President Obama and his family are vacationing. It was felt as far south as South Carolina and as far west as Cleveland, Ohio.
The East Coast gets earthquakes from time to time, but rarely of a magnitude to make skyscrapers sway.
Paul Segall, a Stanford geophysicist who studies the structure and development of earthquake faults, called today’s shaker “a significant earthquake for that part of the world. It could do significant damage.”
“I can’t remember an event that large on the East Coast,” he said.
No significant damage or fatalities have been reported. Some injuries have been reported in Washington D.C., the fire department spokesman told the Associated Press. In New York City, the fire department said that they received a surge in calls.
Authorities in New York and Washington said cell phone traffic was so heavy that it hampered their ability to respond to emergencies. A spokesperson for the Federal Emergency Management Agency urged people to email and use text messaging instead of their cell phones for their next few hours to ease the congestion.
The epicenter of the quake was near Mineral, Va., 39 miles from Richmond, Va., and 83 miles from the nation’s capital. The quake was .6 miles deep.
According to convertalot.com, a web site which compiles measurements and calculators for a variety of statistics, the magnitude 5.9 earthquake released energy equivalent to the explosion of 10,676 tons of TNT.
Amanda Reidelbach, office manager and spokeswoman for the Louisa County Department of Emergency Services in Mineral, Va., said that the town has felt “at least a half dozen or so” aftershocks since the initial quake struck.
“There were pretty serious aftershocks,” she said. “We walked out onto the street and felt the ground just rumbling.”
There have been reports of structural damage to some residences in town, Reidelbach says, but no reports of significant injuries. Mandatory evacuations were put in place shortly after the quake with all non-essential government and county personnel were sent home for the day. Schools were also closed.
The epicenter of the quake is very close to two Dominion Power nuclear power plants, North Anna 1 and 2.
Elizabeth Stuckle, spokesperson for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said that the reactors were “automatically and safely shut down.” The plant declared an “unusual event” which is the lowest category of four emergency classifications. Back-up generators automatically kicked in to keep the reactors cool, the NRC said.
Nine other nuclear plants on the East Coast declared an “unusual event,” but were none shut down.
The tremblor affected travel in the region.
Amtrak said it was running at reduced speed and was checking tracks and terminals for damage. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said the Metro is moving at 15 mph as inspectors check all tracks.
Flights at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, JFK International in New York and in Philadelphia were temporarily halted. Control towers at JFK and Newark International airports were temporarily evacuated. The delay will cause slow air traffic throughout the region, the Federal Aviation Administration warned. In addition, about a dozen flights were diverted from JFK to Boston.
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A woman who works at Mineral Barber Shop in Mineral, Va. said that the inside of her shop is a mess but there doesn’t appear to be any major damage outside the town square.
In Richmond, Va., a woman who works on the 18th floor of a 20 story building said she and her co-workers left the building when the shaking first began.
“At first I thought it was someone jumping on floor above me, but then it was really loud and shaky,” she said.
People in the New York Times building on 42nd street in Manhattan said they felt the entire building shift, and watched office furniture move. As the tall buildings in New York swayed, people ran out into the street.
The New York City Criminal Court in lower Manhattan was also evacuated.
In Baltimore, Maryland, artist Lisa Lewenz was working in her basement studio when she began to feel movement under her feet.
“Everything started trembling, with a big boom sound coming up from the ground. I’ve lived in LA long enough to know this drill, so rushed upstairs, and found the glassware still shuttering for about a minute. Couldn’t get through by the phone to friends, and there was no news online, so I started worrying my house was collapsing,” Lewenz said.
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Since there were no serious injuries, some saw the lighter side in the unexpected quake.
Michelle Mittelstadt said, “My first earthquake! What’s next: Plague of locusts?”
Another woman who works with the Federal Aviation Administration said that the, “If you have to be evacuated for an earthquake, the National Mall is a nice spilling out point!”
The earthquake felt along the eastern corridor follows an earthquake felt Monday in Colorado. That 5.3 magnitude earthquake struck near Trinidad, Colorado.
The United States’ Geological Survey said that earthquakes have been felt in the central Virginia area since 1774.
ABC News’ Jane E. Allen, Christina Caron, Troy McMullen, Jack Cloherty, Jim Sciutto, Aaron Katersky and Dennis Powell contributed to this report.
Momma’s Source; ABC News, DSK News