Magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia felt up and down U.S. east coast, Pentagon evacuated

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Shakemap of the quake
Image: USGS.

A 5.8 earthquake struck 4 miles southwest of Mineral, Virginia, 80 miles south of Washington D.C., at 1:51 p.m. EDT (17:51 UTC) and lasted for 15–30 seconds. The quake had a magnitude of 5.8 with an epicenter 27 miles (43 km) east of Charlottesville, Virginia. A 2.8 aftershock was reported at 2:46 pm EDT (18:46 UTC).

According to Twitter reports, the quake was felt inland as far as Cleveland and Toronto and along the coast from Boston to Georgia. Police sergeant James Ryan, from South Brunswick, New Jersey stated that "The 911 line is flooding with calls right now. People want to know what happened. They want to know if there was an explosion."

The United States Capitol and The Pentagon in Arlington were evacuated, as were police headquarters and city hall in New York City. Numerous minor injuries have been reported in Washington, D.C.; however, none of them are serious. There have been confirmed reports of damage at the Washington National Cathedral and the Smithsonian Castle. The Pentagon was also damaged when a burst pipe caused flooding. The North Anna Power Station lost offsite power and had to shut down, turning to four diesel generators to maintain cooling of the facility. Both the JFK and Newark airports were briefly shut down and the control towers were evacuated. A release from Amtrak stated that trains will be operating at reduced speed, but no damage has been found on any rail lines. The Washington Metro is also operating on reduced speed, with some stations closed down, while lines are evaluated.

In Boston, it was reported that the building at 111 Devonshire Street appeared to be leaning onto the adjacent building at 50 Milk Street, with fears that it could collapse. The street was blocked off while the Boston Fire Department investigated. However, it was determined that the buildings had always appeared like that. Nevertheless, the Boston Fire Department investigated the roof and the inside of 111 Devonshire St. After 30 minutes, the building was determined to be safe.

This is the second strongest earthquake to originate in Virginia since records have been kept, after the one recorded on May 31, 1897, near Giles County, which was estimated at a magnitude of 5.9.

The Dow initially dropped 50 points after the earthquake struck, but later increased over 100 points.

The Pentagon was evacuated moments after a 5.8 earthquake was felt throughout the US east cost. Image: U.S. Navy.The Pentagon was evacuated moments after a 5.8 earthquake was felt throughout the US east cost.
Image: U.S. Navy.

A crowd of evacuated businesspeople on Wall Street in New York City. Image: Alec Tabak.A crowd of evacuated businesspeople on Wall Street in New York City.
Image: Alec Tabak.

Federal employees evacuated buildings at 13th and C Streets in Washington, D.C.Image: US Department of Agriculture.Federal employees evacuated buildings at 13th and C Streets in Washington, D.C.
Image: US Department of Agriculture.
The office of the Pan American Health Organization in Washington, D.C. was also evacuated.Image: Antonio Zugaldia.The office of the Pan American Health Organization in Washington, D.C. was also evacuated.
Image: Antonio Zugaldia.
Building occupants evacuate onto Market Street in Philadelphia.Image: Douglas Muth.Building occupants evacuate onto Market Street in Philadelphia.
Image: Douglas Muth.
Damage to the Embassy of Ecuador in Washington, D.C. Image: William Neuheisel.Damage to the Embassy of Ecuador in Washington, D.C.
Image: William Neuheisel.
People gather on Vermont Avenue, outside the headquarters of the US Department of Homeland Security, in Washington, DC. Image: Tim1965.People gather on Vermont Avenue, outside the headquarters of the US Department of Homeland Security, in Washington, DC.
Image: Tim1965.
A building in McLean, Virginia sustained some damage to its ceiling. Image: Claire Schmitt.A building in McLean, Virginia sustained some damage to its ceiling.
Image: Claire Schmitt.
A crowd of evacuees in McLean, Virginia. Image: Claire Schmitt.A crowd of evacuees in McLean, Virginia.
Image: Claire Schmitt.
After the earthquake, there were concerns that 111 Devonshire St. in Boston appeared to be leaning onto the adjacent 50 Milk St with fears it may possibly collapse. It turned out the buildings have always appeared like this. Image: Patrick Mannion.After the earthquake, there were concerns that 111 Devonshire St. in Boston appeared to be leaning onto the adjacent 50 Milk St with fears it may possibly collapse. It turned out the buildings have always appeared like this.
Image: Patrick Mannion.


Sources

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