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UPDATE: Earthquake Rocks Washington Area

NOTE: Cameras were recording a press conference in New York City when the earthquake occurred. To see that video, click on the video link ABOVE marked "VIDEO: Earthquake Hits During A Press Conference In New York City"

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UPDATED Thursday, August 26, 2011 --- 1:50 p.m.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The 5.8-magnitude earthquake that rattled the East Coast this week has produced at least seven aftershocks.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the aftershocks around the central Virginia epicenter ranged in magnitude from 4.5 to as little as 2.2, following the strongest earthquake to strike the East Coast since World War II. Two of them hit early Thursday.

When the number of aftershocks was still at five, geophysicist Amy Vaughan with the National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado, said the aftershocks so far had been remarkably few.

Vaughan said the agency isn't sure what to expect, but it's likely there will be some more for days, if not weeks. Typically, the larger the quake, the longer and the greater extent of aftershocks.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Thursday, August 25, 2011 --- 7:05 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The National Park Service says engineers have discovered several additional cracks in the top portion of the Washington Monument.

The cracks were found Wednesday during a daylong inspection of the interior of the monument. A 4-foot crack was discovered Tuesday during an inspection of the exterior by helicopter, shortly after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the nation's capital.

The monument is closed to visitors indefinitely.

Park service spokeswoman Carol Johnson could not say how many additional cracks were found but says engineers found three or four "significant" ones.

The park service is bringing in engineers from two firms with extensive experience investigating earthquake damage to conduct a more detailed inspection on Thursday.

Johnson says it's likely that the additional cracks mean the monument will take longer to repair.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Wednesday, August 24, 2011 --- 8:20 a.m.

NRC: No damage at nuclear plants from earthquake

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. (AP) -- The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission says no major damage has been found at the 12 nuclear power plant sites that got inspections but were not shut down following an earthquake that rattled the East Coast.

NRC Northeast region spokeswoman Diane Screnci says the "unusual event" status has been canceled at the sites in an area that spans from North Carolina to Michigan.

She says their operators and NRC inspectors did not find problems during walk-downs of the plants and it appears there was no threat to public safety.

The sites that shook on Tuesday include New Jersey's Oyster Creek plant, the nation's oldest operating nuclear power plant.

The twin reactors at the North Anna facility near the Virginia epicenter were shut down and remained so Wednesday morning.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, August 23, 2011 --- 7:00 a.m.

Facts about today's East Coast earthquake from the U.S. Geological Survey:

The magnitude 5.8 earthquake that struck Virginia on Tuesday was the largest on the East Coast since one of the same strength in New York in 1944.

It was the largest in Virginia since a 5.9 temblor in 1897. The largest East Coast quake on record was a 7.3 in South Carolina in 1886.

A 5.8 earthquake releases as much energy as nearly 8 tons of TNT, about half the size of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

But it was smaller than earthquakes that have made world headlines recently. The devastating March 11 quake in northeastern Japan was a magnitude 9.0. One that rocked Christchurch, New Zealand, in February was a 6.3.

That Japanese earthquake released 63,095 times more energy than the Virginia one.

USGS seismologist Paule Earle said earthquakes like this can happen "anywhere at any time." Earle says there are "a lot of unknown faults in the East that are very unlikely to go, but do go periodically."

The epicenter of Tuesday's quake was 3.7 miles underground near Mineral, Va., and about 90 miles southwest of Washington.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, August 23, 2011 --- 4:50 p.m.

Quake prompts review of nuclear plants in 6 states

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal officials say nuclear plants from North Carolina to Michigan are under increased scrutiny after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the East Coast.

Twelve nuclear plants declared what regulators call "unusual events" after Tuesday's earthquake, which was centered 40 miles northwest of Richmond, Va.

Two nuclear reactors at Virginia's North Anna Power Station, in the same county as the epicenter, were automatically taken off line by safety systems. No damage was reported at the plant, which is being powered by emergency diesel generators.

The quake was also felt at the Surry nuclear plant near Newport News, but a spokesman said both reactors there continued to operate safely.

Besides Surry, nuclear plants in Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania were placed under increased scrutiny, but continued to operate.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, August 23, 2011 --- 4:50 p.m.

Bloomberg: No major damage in NYC from quake

NEW YORK (AP) -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says an earthquake that was centered in Virginia but felt clearly in the nation's largest city didn't cause major damage or injuries.

Bloomberg said at a news conference Tuesday that the the city was taking precautions such as inspecting bridges but didn't have any indications of problems.

The 5.8-magnitude quake led to temporary building evacuations as well as suspension of area flights and trains.

District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance was starting a news conference after dismissal of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexual assault case when the shaking began. Reporters and others began rushing out the door until it became clear it was subsiding.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, August 23, 2011 --- 3:40 p.m.

USGS says East Coast quake was 5.8 magnitude

MINERAL, Va. (AP) -- The U.S. Geological Survey has slightly lowered its estimate of the Virginia earthquake's magnitude from 5.9 to 5.8.

The quake forced evacuations of all the memorials and monuments on the National Mall in Washington and rattled nerves from South Carolina to Martha's Vineyard, the Massachusetts island where President Barack Obama is vacationing.

Officials said the earthquake was half a mile deep and centered near Louisa, Va., about 40 miles northwest of Richmond. Numerous minor injuries have been reported in the Washington area.

The federal agency says more than 12 million people live close enough to the quake's epicenter to feel shaking.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, August 23, 2011 --- 3:40 p.m.

White House: No major earthquake damage reported

WEST TISBURY, Mass. (AP) -- The White House says advisers have told President Barack Obama there have been no reports of major infrastructural damage from the East Coast earthquake, including airports and nuclear facilities.

Obama led a conference call Tuesday afternoon on the earthquake with top administration officials, including his homeland security secretary, national security adviser and administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Obama was on a golf course on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., where he is vacationing, when the earthquake struck.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, August 23, 2011 --- 3:05 p.m.

National Mall monuments closed after earthquake

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The National Park Service says all memorials and monuments on the National Mall have been evacuated and closed after an earthquake struck near the nation's capital. No damage was reported.

The Park Service says the memorials and monuments, including the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, were evacuated immediately after the quake.

Agency spokesman Jeffrey Olson says that there was "absolutely no damage" to the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial or other tourist destinations along the Mall.

The 5.9 earthquake struck 83 miles southwest of the city Tuesday afternoon, prompting the evacuation of many government buildings.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, August 23, 2011 --- 2:45 p.m.

Planes destined for NY, Philadelphia held back

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A spokesman for the union representing air traffic controllers said airport towers were closed at John F. Kennedy and Newark airports.

Tim Hardison of the National Air Traffic Controllers Union also said Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland was closed to air traffic.

Laura Brown, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said the agency issued orders to hold planes heading for Dulles International in Virginia, John F. Kennedy in New York and Philadelphia on the ground rather than let them take off.

Brown, who was evacuated from FAA's headquarters in downtown Washington, said in an email that she wasn't aware of equipment outages.

Authorities said Reagan National Airport in Northern Virginia near Washington, was operating.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, August 23, 2011 --- 2:40 p.m.

Numerous injuries, none serious, in DC after quake

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A District of Columbia fire department spokesman says there are numerous injuries as a result of an earthquake that struck near the nation's capital, but so far there are no reports of serious injuries or deaths.

DC Fire and EMS spokesman Pete Piringer says numerous buildings have been damaged, including the Ecuadorian embassy and a handful of schools.

He says thousands of people are milling about downtown after evacuating their buildings. He says that if a building has not sustained structural damage, the safest thing to do is to shelter in place. Union Station was also evacuated, but later reopened.

Piringer says all city fire trucks and ambulances have been deployed. Those that aren't responding to calls are driving around and looking for structural damage, injured people and other emergencies.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, August 23, 2011 --- 2:10 p.m.

Stones fall off Washington National Cathedral

(AP) - A spokesman for Washington National Cathedral says at least three of the four pinnacles on the central tower have fallen off and the central tower appears to be leaning.

The pinnacles are the top stones on the cathedral's towers.

Richard Weinberg, director of communications for the cathedral, said the cathedral has been evacuated and stone masons are assessing the damage.

The Washington National Cathedral is an Episcopal Church landmark in the capital. Located in the northwest quadrant of the city near foreign embassies and the vice president's residence, the gothic-like structure is among the tallest in the city. It's historically been the site of funerals and memorials for presidents and statesmen.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, August 23, 2011 --- 2:00 p.m.

2 nuclear reactors taken offline after Va. quake

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Federal officials say two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station in Louisa County, Va., were automatically taken off line by safety systems around the time of the earthquake.

The Dominion-operated power plant is being run off of four emergency diesel generators, which are supplying power for critical safety equipment.

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 Dominion are sending people to inspect the site.

Hanna said he know of no other shut reactor but that unusual events were reported at a dozen other plant sites.

Louisa County is about 40 miles northwest of Richmond.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, August 23, 2011 --- 2:00 p.m.

National Mall monuments closed after earthquake

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The National Park Service says all memorials and monuments on the National Mall have been evacuated and closed after an earthquake struck the nation's capital.

The 5.8-magnitude earthquake was centered near Richmond, Va., and could be felt along much of the East Coast. Buildings shook in downtown Washington.

National Park Service spokesman Bill Line says the memorials and monuments, including the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, were evacuated immediately after the quake. He says he's not aware of any injuries to visitors or Park Service staff or damage to Park Service properties.

Line says NPS employees are being sent home early.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, August 23, 2011 --- 1:45 p.m.

US: No tsunami threat from East Coast quake

ATLANTA-- U.S. officials say there is no threat of a tsunami along the East Coast after an earthquake centered in Virginia rocked the region.

The National Weather Service's West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center said the location of the quake was far enough inland that it didn't threaten to trigger a tsunami on the coast.

Director Paul Whitmore said the center has gauges up and down the East Coast and none of them were detecting tsunami activity.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, August 23, 2011 --- 1:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va., shook much of Washington, D.C., and was felt as far north as Rhode Island and New York City.

The quake sent hundreds of people spilling into the street a block from the White House, with other buildings evacuated in North Carolina and tremors felt as far away as New York City.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was 3.7 miles deep. 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. The quake was in Mineral, Va., in Louisa County.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2011 --- 1:10 p.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va., shook much of Washington, D.C., and was felt as far north as Rhode Island and New York City.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was 3.7 miles deep. 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. The quake was in Mineral, Va., in Louisa County.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


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