The Lookout

Earthquake strikes Eastern seaboard

Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News
The Lookout

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck Mineral, Virginia, 87 miles outside of Washington, D.C., today. You can see the White House during the quake as the Secret Service walks on its roof in the video above.

Shaking could be felt from Toronto to New York and all the way to North Carolina at close to 2 p.m. EST this afternoon. The quake lasted 45 seconds, and is one of the largest ever to hit the East Coast.

The Pentagon, Capitol and White House were all evacuated, according to the Associated Press.

Roll Call says the Capitol was evacuated after staffers saw "chandeliers ... swinging from side to side." According to an eyewitness on Twitter, the National Cathedral is damaged, with some of its masonry falling off altogether.

But no fatalities have been reported so far, and the damage appears to be relatively minimal.

Many people trying to make cell phone calls in the area reported having trouble finding service. Craig Fugate, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, used Twitter to ask Washington residents to "try to stay off your cell phone if it is not an emergency."

Office workers stood outside Dupont Circle in Washington, waiting to be allowed back in to their buildings after the tremor, reports Laura Rozen, who writes The Envoy blog for Yahoo! News. While there were reports that the National Monument was "tilted," Yahoo! Ticket reporter Chris Moody went to the scene and found it looking fine. The grounds within 1,000 feet of the monument were closed, he reported.

Two nuclear reactors in Virginia were automatically shut off after the quake, but no damage has been reported, according to Reuters . A nuclear power plant near the epicenter of the quake is designed to survive up to a 6.1-magnitude quake, according to the People's Alliance for Clean Energy.

This video shows cars crushed from falling bricks in Tyson's Corner, Virginia. WNYC reported on Twitter that there was no significant damage from the tremor in New York City.

In the video below, New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance tries to calm a room full of skittish reporters after the quake struck during a press conference announcing the city was dropping rape charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn:

At the Yahoo! offices near New York City's Union Square, editors and writers watched their computers shake for at least 15 seconds, before finally breaking the office's perpetual awkward silence to ask each other if the shaking was from an earthquake. Fellow Lookout blogger Zachary Roth said he felt his entire apartment building in Brooklyn shake, and is still feeling dizzy.

Rachel Rose Hartman, a political blogger for Yahoo! News who lives in a Washington suburb, said the quake sent her fireplace tools flying to the ground. She ran to a doorway to wait out the quake.

If you felt the earthquake, you can add your zip code to this government site that is tracking how large the tremor was.

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