Earthquake Rocks East Coast

WASHINGTON (AP) - A 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered in
Virginia forced evacuations of all the monuments on the National
Mall in Washington and rattled nerves from Georgia to Martha's
Vineyard, the Massachusetts island where President Barack Obama is
vacationing. No injuries were immediately reported.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was half a mile
deep and centered near Louisa, Va., about 40 miles northwest of
Richmond. Shaking was felt at the White House and all over the East
Coast, as far south as Chapel Hill, N.C. Parts of the Pentagon,
White House and Capitol were evacuated.

Two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station in the same
county as the epicenter were automatically taken off line by safety
systems around the time of the earthquake, said Roger Hannah, a
spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The Dominion-operated power plant is being run off of four
emergency diesel generators, which are supplying power for critical
safety equipment. Hannah said the agency was not immediately aware
of any damage at nuclear power plants in the Southeast.

Obama and many of the nation's leaders were out of town on
August vacation when the quake struck at 1:51 p.m. EDT. The shaking
was felt on the Martha's Vineyard golf course as Obama was just
starting a round.

At the Pentagon in northern Virginia, a low rumbling built and
built to the point that the building was shaking. People ran into
the corridors of the government's biggest building and as the
shaking continued there were shouts of "Evacuate! Evacuate!"

The U.S. Park Service evacuated and closed all National Mall
monuments and memorials. At Reagan National Airport outside
Washington, ceiling tiles fell during a few seconds of shaking.
Authorities announced it was an earthquake and all flights were put
on hold.

In New York, the 26-story federal courthouse in lower Manhattan
began swaying and hundreds of people were seen leaving the
building. Court officers weren't letting people back in.

The quake came a day after an earthquake in Colorado toppled
groceries off shelves and caused minor damage to homes in the
southern part of the state and in northern New Mexico. No injuries
were reported as aftershocks continued Tuesday.

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

Social media site Twitter lit up with reports of the earthquake
from people using the site up and down the U.S. eastern seaboard.

"People pouring out of buildings and onto the sidewalks and
Into Farragut Park in downtown DC...," tweeted Republican
strategist Kevin Madden.

"did you feel earthquake in ny? It started in richmond va!"
tweeted Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the
Huffington Post Media Group.

John Gurlach, air traffic controller at the Morgantown Municipal
Airport was in a 40-foot-tall tower when the earth trembled.

"There were two of us looking at each other saying, `What's
that?"' he said, even as a commuter plane was landing. "It was
noticeably shaking. It felt like a B-52 unloading."

Immediately, the phone rang from the nearest airport in
Clarksburg, and a computer began spitting out green strips of paper
- alerts from other airports in New York and Washington issuing
ground stops "due to earthquake."

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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