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Moderate quake hits US east coast, no casualties

(People's Daily Online)

09:21, August 24, 2011

A federal court officer instructs court personnel during an evacuation of the Federal Court Building in New York, following an 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the East Coast of the United States, August 23, 2011. The strong earthquakewas felt as far away as Canada on Tuesday, shaking buildings in many cities, delaying flights and trains and sending thousands of frightened workers into the streets. (Photo from China Daily)

A moderate earthquake struck Virginia and the Washington area on Tuesday, shaking buildings and swaying shelves, filling street with frightened office workers.

U.S. President Barack Obama was told that no serious injuries and infrastructure loss were reported. But the quake, which lasted only a few seconds, sent a spasm of fear through an area in the American east coast unaccustomed to the shaking of the earth.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake on the Richer scale of 5.8 and centering in southwestern Virginia, not far away from state capital of Richmond, is the most powerful earthquake to strike the East Coast in 67 years.
People were seen fleeing out of their homes and offices. Others prayed. Alarms and building sprinkler systems went off. In Pasadena, Maryland, an antique wall clock stopped at the moment the quake hit, its pendulum stilled at 1:51 p.m. Cans and books toppled from shelves.

On the Washington Mall area, the National Park Service closed the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Memorial. And, highway engineers fanned out across the region to inspect bridges and tunnels.

"I thought I was having maybe a heart attack, and I saw everybody running," said Adrian Ollivierre, an accountant who was in his office on the 60th floor of the Empire State Building when the shaking began.

"I think what it is, is the paranoia that happens from 9/11, and that's why I'm still out here — because, I'm sorry, I'm not playing with my life," He told The Associated Press.

Two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station, in the same county as the epicenter, were automatically taken off line by safety systems, said Roger Hannah, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

At the Pentagon, a low rumbling built until the building itself was shaking, and people ran into the corridors of the complex. The shaking continued there, to shouts of "Evacuate! Evacuate!" The main damage to the building, the largest single workspace for the federal government, came from a broken water pipe.

Amtrak said its trains along the Northeast Corridor between Baltimore and Washington were operating at reduced speeds and crews were inspecting stations and railroad infrastructure before returning to normal.

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