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D.C., N.Y. Buildings Evacuate As Quake Felt Across East

Air and train traffic was disrupted and hundreds of thousands were evacuated from buildings on the East Coast this afternoon following a magnitude 5.9 earthquake centered near Louisa, Virgina. The Pentagon and White House were among buildings evacuated. This less than 24-hours after a 5.3 magnitude quake shook southern Colorado.

Two nuclear reactors near the epicenter were taken offline as a precaution, officials said. No damage was reported at either.

At the U.S. Capitol, light fixtures swung and the building shook for about 15 seconds while the tremor hit, NBC News reported.

At Reagan National Airport outside Washington, ceiling tiles fell during a few seconds of shaking. All flights were briefly put on hold and one terminal was evacuated due to a gas smell.

In New York City, NBC reported debris fell from the attorney general’s office, causing a brief panic as people ran from the area.

Airport towers and government buildings in New York, including City Hall, were evacuated. The 26-story federal courthouse in lower Manhattan began swaying and hundreds of people were seen leaving the building.

A mild tremor was even felt by NBC reporters with President Barack Obama during his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, an island off Massachusetts.

In Charleston, W.Va., hundreds of workers left the state Capitol building and employees at other downtown office buildings were asked to leave temporarily.

“The whole building shook,” said Jennifer Bundy, a spokeswoman for the state Supreme Court. “You could feel two different shakes. Everybody just kind of came out on their own.”

In Ohio, where office buildings swayed in Columbus and Cincinnati and the press box at the Cleveland Indians’ Progressive Field shook. At least one building near the Statehouse was evacuated in downtown Columbus.

In downtown Baltimore, Md., the quake sent office workers into the streets, where lamp posts swayed slightly as they called family and friends to check in.

[MSNBC]

The D.C. area’s previous record for an earthquake was on July 16, 2010, when a 3.6 magnitude quake was felt. The East Coast gets earthquakes, but usually smaller ones than the West Coast and is less prepared for shaking.

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