US East Coast Earthquake Alarm: Some Injuries & Evacuations

US East Coast Earthquake Alarm: Some Injuries & Evacuations

The U.S. is reeling today as the possibility of Hurricane Irene hitting looms closer and as if that wasn’t enough the East Coast of the US was hit by an earthquake with a 5.8 magnitude. The quake was one of the most powerful recorded on the East Coast and fire officials in Washington have confirmed there were some injuries but thankfully so far no reported deaths.

The quake also led to buildings being evacuated, including some of the Capitol, the Pentagon and the White House. There were immediate fears as the earthquake struck, being so close to the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, although those fears at least were unfounded. The earthquake was felt from South Carolina to New England and was centered approximately 40 miles northwest of Richmond, Virginia.

Near Washington at the Reagan National Airport some ceiling tiles dropped and flights were put on hold. Kathleen Bergen, FAA spokesperson, said “The Washington/Virginia, Philadelphia/Atlantic City/Pennsylvania, and New York area airports, except LaGuardia, all suspended flights briefly so airport operators could assess runway integrity. Operations resumed as soon as the airports determined that the runways and associated equipment and facilities were not damaged. LaGuardia never stopped flights. Dulles never stopped arrivals and only briefly stopped departures,” according to a report on CBSNews.

At the Pentagon people shouted “Evacuate! Evacuate!” as the building shook while the Capitol later reopened to staff and members but not to members of the public. Monuments and memorials on the National Mall were closed by the Park Service. A spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Roger Hannah, told how safety systems automatically took two nuclear reactors off line at the North Anna Power Station.

There was shock on the streets of New York as hundreds of people evacuated the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan, which is 26 storys high and only a few blocks away from Ground Zero. The Empire State Building also saw people streaming out of the building. Some Amtrak trains were operating at reduced speeds until stations and infrastructure could be checked. According to the U.S. Geological Survey the earthquake was 3.7 miles deep and over 12 million people could have felt the tremors.

Were you affected by today’s East Coast earthquake? We’d be interested to hear your experiences of the quake if you felt it so do let us have your comments.

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