Quake jolts US cities, Obama holds
conference with officials
US President Barack Obama held a conference call with top
officials of his administration Tuesday following the 5.9-strong
earthquake that hit the country's east coast in the afternoon. The
quake occurred at 1751 GMT and was described
Washington/New York: The most powerful earthquake
to strike the US East Coast in 67 years rattled millions of
Americans from Georgia to northern New England and led to
evacuation of parts of the White House, Capitol and Pentagon.
No major injuries or extensive damage were reported after the
5.8-magnitude earthquake, which struck near the town of Mineral,
Virginia about 88 miles southwest of Washington Tuesday. Three
aftershocks were reported by Tuesday evening.
Frightened office workers spilled into the streets in New York and
a nearby nuclear power plant was shut down, according to reports.
The quake prompted evacuations of office buildings and the
precautionary closing of monuments in the nation's capital.
The quake was also reported to have been felt on the island of
Martha's Vineyard, where President Barack Obama was playing golf.
He did not feel the earthquake, according to the White House.
The National Cathedral said its central tower and three of its
four corner spires were damaged, but the White House said advisers
had told Obama there were no reports of major damage to the
nation's infrastructure, including airports and nuclear
Two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station, in the same
county as the epicentre, were automatically taken off line by
safety systems, said Roger Hannah, a spokesman for the US Nuclear
Aftershocks of magnitude 2.8 and 2.2 were recorded later in the
afternoon, followed by one of 4.2 just after 8 p.m. officials
said. More aftershocks are possible in the coming weeks.
"It's one of the largest that we've had there," US Geological
Survey seismologist Lucy Jones said of the quake.
The quake, which was recorded at 1:51 p.m., was shallow-just 3.7
miles deep, The magnitude was initially reported as 5.8, then
revised to 5.9, and then revised again back to 5.8.
Tuesday's incident occurred in a known seismic zone in central
Virginia, said Dave Russ of the US Geological Survey. But the
strength of the earthquake was a bit surprising. A 5.9 event
occurred in 1897 near Blacksburg, he said.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)