WASHINGTON – A magnitude-5.8 earthquake that struck in Virginia about 83 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., shook much of the northern East Coast today, swaying buildings as far away as Philadelphia and New York.
CNN reported that about 11 million people likely felt the quake.
Temblors are rare on the East Coast, and many buildings and historic structures are not quake-proofed like they are in California. Buildings were evacuated, and businesses were disrupted by the jolt.
Parts of the White House, Capitol and the Pentagon were evacuated.
CNN also is reporting that the quake broke a water pipe at the sprawling Pentagon complex, causing minor flooding. It also reported that pinnacles fell off the National Cathedral in Washington, but no one was injured by the falling debris.
The quake epicenter was near Mineral, Va., very close to two Dominion Power nuclear power plants. Emergency switches automatically shut down the power plants as a precaution.
Early reports say that the quake was felt in Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and the lower New England states. President Barack Obama and his family are vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, and news reports said the quake was felt there.
Toronto TV stations reported the quake was felt in Ontario, Canada.
Residents of Washington and New York City, who are gearing up for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attack, were rattled by the quake. TV reports showed people reacting nervously and evacuating buildings post-haste.
Twitter immediately lit up with eyewitness accounts of the quake.
So far, there are no reports of major damage.
The quake disrupted cell phone service and delayed flights all over the East Coast.