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5.9 magnitude quake rocks Washington D.C. area
Update at 2:12 p.m. ET: The quake could be felt in McLean, Va., headquarters of USA TODAY. It caused the building to sway. Some items could be heard falling from shelves. A number of employees went left the building.
Update at 2:10 p.m. ET: NBC reports that the quake was centered nine miles from Mineral, Va., which is 100 miles south of Washington, D.C.
Says Doug Kammerer, meteorlogist with the NBC affiliate in Washington, calls the tremor a "very big earthquake for our area."
The quake struck around 1:15 p.m. ET and lasted for about 30 to 45 seconds.
There have been no reports of injuries or widespread damage.
Update at 2p.m. ET: Reuters reports a 6.0 magnitude earthquake centered near Mineral, Va., rocked the mid-Atlantic states and was felt as far north at Manhattan and as far south as North Carolina.
Update at 1:57 p.m. ET:The Associated Press reports that the Pentagon is being evacuated.
An apparent earthquake rocks Washington, D.C. area.
Fox news reports that several public buildings, including the Capitol, have been evacuated.
Giles County, Virginia
1897 05 31 18:58 UTC
This earthquake was the largest in intensity and aerial extent in Virginia in historical times. MM intensity VII to VIII extended over an elliptical area - from near Lynchburg, Virginia, west to Bluefield, West Virginia, and from Giles County south to Bristol, Tennessee. The MM intensity VIII assigned to this earthquake is based on "many downed chimneys" and "changes in the flow of springs."
The shock was felt severely at Narrows, about 3 kilometers west of Pearisburg. Here, the surface rolled in an undulating motion, water in springs became muddy, and water in some springs ceased to flow. The flow of water in springs also was disturbed in the area of Pearisburg, about 70 kilometers west of Roanoke, and Sugar Run.
The shock was strong at Pearisburg, where walls of old brick houses were cracked and many chimneys were thrown down or badly damaged. Many chimneys also were shaken down at Bedford, Pulaski, Radford, and Roanoke, Virginia, and Bristol, Tennessee; many chimneys were damaged at Christiansburg, Dublin, Floyd, Houston, Lexington, Lynchburg, Rocky Mount, Salem, Tazewell, and Wytheville, Virginia; Charlotte, Oxford, Raleigh, and Winston, North Carolina; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Bluefield, West Virginia. Felt from Georgia to Pennsylvania and from the Atlantic coast westward to Indiana and Kentucky. Aftershocks continued through June 6, 1897.
The Washington National Cathedral, the highest building in the city, suffered damage in Tuesday's earthquake, with three pinnacles in the central tower breaking off, a spokesman said.
Richard Weinberg, director of communications at the Episcopal cathedral, said a fourth pinnacle was leaning and might also be damaged. The building's central tower, which is 30 stories high, also suffered minor structural damage.
Other damage reported from the earthquake occurred at the Ecuador Embassy, a recorded message by the DC Fire and EMS agency said.
Virginia Nuclear Power Plant Loses Power After Quake
A nuclear power plant in central Virginia has lost offsite power in the wake of a 5.9 earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va., U.S. nuclear officials said.
The North Anna Power Station, which has two nuclear reactors, is now using four diesel generators to maintain cooling operations. The plant automatically shut down in the wake of the earthquake.
"As far as we know, everything is safe," said Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman David McIntyre.
There are seven additional nuclear plants that have declared unusual events, which is the lowest of four emergency situations, the NRC said.
Those plants are located in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
FNC reports Washington Monument may be tilting from quake jolt
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly reported at 2:30 pm that their bureau received information from a producer saying that a Captiol Hill Police officer says that the Washington Monument may actually be tilting as a result of the earthquake.
Seismologist John Rundle joined Kelly on her show and confirmed that the Washington Monument could very well be tilting as a result of the earthquake and the structure should be checked out.
Washington Monument top cracked by earthquake
The National Park Service says engineers have found a crack near the top of the Washington Monument presumably caused by a magnitude-5.8 earthquake that shook the East Coast.
Park service spokesman Bill Line said Tuesday night that structural engineers found the crack where the 555-foot landmark narrows considerably.
He says the monument will be closed indefinitely to keep the public safe.
An outside engineering service will study the crack on Wednesday.
The 91,000-ton monument is made of Maryland marble.
More Cracks Found in Washington Monument
An inspection of the Washington Monument Wednesday found more cracks in the pyramidion, the top section of structure, according to the National Parks Service.
At least three cracks are large enough to let daylight inside the monument. Debris also fell on the floors and in the stairwell.
A crack 4 feet long and an inch wide was found during a secondary inspection Tuesday evening, so NPS decided to keep it closed indefinitely while damage is assessed. A preliminary inspection of the Washington Monument had found it to be structurally sound, according to the NPS.
After more cracks were found Wednesday, NPS is bringing in two engineering firms with earthquake damage assessment expertise.
Terminal A at Washington Reagan National Airport has been evacuated because of an odor of gas, airport spokeswoman Courtney Mickalonis said. Initial sweeps of the building showed no major damage from the earthquake.
Light structural damage has been reported in Culpepper and Orange counties in Virginia, said Laura Southard of the state Emergency Operations Center.
Damage Reports Around the Area
In the wake of this afternoon's 5.9 quake, reports of damage have come from around the region.
A library at 15th and Euclid street N.W. suffered a partial roof collapse.
The National Cathedral suffered damage to its parapets (spire-like rooftop edging), and there is debris currently resting in the grass there. At least one of those spires is noticeably missing its top. The Cathedral is currently closed.
Washington Reagan National Airport has some ceiling tiles down, although flights are still departing. Arrivals were temporarily suspended, but have resumed. Dulles has all flights coming and going; BWI has some delays, but none are severe.
A large water pipe broke at the Pentagon, causing considerable flooding in some corridors on the third and fourth floors of Ring A. The water has been shut off, but will be turned back on soon. A Pentagon official said that is the only damage they know about at this time.
Twitter user kateddc wrote that a church at 13 and Monroe streets N.W. has a fallen turret. "13th is one lane [northbound] for a few blocks," she tweeted.
In Fredericksburg, the police department reports that at least 11 buildings on Prince Anne, Caroline and Charles streets have damage. None are in danger of collapse. Two gas leaks were reported at Yates Circle and the FLS building; there was a water main break inside Cobblestone Apartments, and a structure fire on Cornell Street.
The town of Culpeper, Va. is 36.4 miles from Mineral, Va., and a state of emergency has been declared in Culpeper County. Public schools will be closed on Wednesday as a precautionary measure so officials can inspect buildings for any structural damage.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, three buildings have been condemned in the Town of Culpeper. One building in the 100 block of North East Street collapsed, and one person was injured and taken to the hospital for treatment. Other buildings in old town Culpeper have damage to their façades.
A shelter at the Salem Fire Department in Culpeper, operated by the Red Cross, is open for residents.
The county jail in downtown Culpeper was evacuated due to perceived structural damage to the building; 80 inmates were relocated to other correctional facilities.
In Bowie, Md., the top of a smokestack on Glenn Dale Road apparently crumbled (see image above), and a building in Oxon Hill, Md., experienced a partial collapse on the second floor.
Virginia Earthquake 2011: USGS Warns it May be a Foreshock
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the quake happened at 1:51 p.m. at a depth of 3.7 miles. The quake was centered 27 miles east of Charlottesville, Va., near the town of Mineral in Louisa County, Va.
The movement lasted for no more than 30 seconds.
Minutes after the quake, the director of the USGS, Marcia McNutt -- who watched objects falling from the shelves in her office -- cautioned that the shaking might not be over.
"What the concern is, of course, is that this is a foreshock. If it's a foreshock, then the worst is yet to come," McNutt told The Washington Post.
Residents in Northern Virginia described it like "a freight train coming through the house."