Panic at Pentagon as major quake hits
TWO nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station in Louisa County, Virginia, were automatically taken offline last night after a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck in the US.
Shaking was felt at the White House and all over the east coast. Parts of the Pentagon, White House and Capitol were evacuated. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Roger Hannah says the agency was not immediately aware of any damage at nuclear power plants in the southeast. The NRC and the Dominion plant operators are sending people to inspect the site.
The quake forced evacuations of all the monuments in Washington and rattled nerves from the southern state of Georgia to Martha's Vineyard, the Massachusetts island in the northeast where President Barack Obama is on holiday. No injuries were immediately reported.
The US Geological Survey said the earthquake was 800 metres deep and centred about 64km northwest of Richmond, the state capital of Virginia.
Mr Obama and many of the nation's leaders were out of town on August vacation when the quake struck at 1.51pm. The shaking was felt on the Martha's Vineyard golf course as Mr 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 US 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.
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.
In Charleston, West Virginia, 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, 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 up and down the US eastern seaboard.