POSTED: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 12:18pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 3:56pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — A powerful earthquake has rattled the East Coast. It was just after lunch when buildings began to shake along the eastern seaboard, the quake rattling buildings and nerves.
The Capitol and National Monuments were among those evacuated in Washington, DC. The National Cathedral was closed after losing a small chunk off its central tower.
The quake was centered northwest of Richmond, Virginia and felt as far south as South Carolina. Even in Chicago and Detroit there was shaking. In New York City crowds felt it in Times Square and on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
"What is unusual about this one is the size of the event. This was significantly larger," notes the US Geological Survey's Dr. Harley Benz.
The 5.9 magnitude quake is the largest recorded in Virginia since 1897.
Several nuclear plants along the East Coast were taken off line by safety systems.
There are few reports of any major damage. The biggest impact may ultimately be to travel.
Amtrak is inspecting rails and switches, and airports are still reporting some delays after control towers at several major airports were briefly evacuated.
ORIGINAL STORY: An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.8 struck near Washington, D.C., the U.S.Geological Survey said. There have been some reports that it may have been as strong as a 6.0.
U.S.G.S said the epicenter was in Virginia.
The quake was felt in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New York, and on Martha's Vineyard where President Barack Obama is vacationing. Cell phone service has been disrupted in New York City where parts of Manhattan have been evacuated.
The Pentagon has been evacuated as other buildings in Washington and New York City. Some damage has been reported.