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Magnitude 5.8 Earthquake Felt In NYC; No Major Damage Reported

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Magnitude 5.8 Earthquake Felt In NYC; No Major Damage Reported
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Dozens of buildings throughout the city, including City Hall, were briefly evacuated Tuesday after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered outside of Washington, D.C. rocked much of the East Coast.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake took place just before 2 p.m. and was centered northwest of Richmond, Virginia. It was felt as far away as Georgia and Maine.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city received numerous calls for buildings shaking but that there are no reports of major structural damage or injuries.

The mayor said crews completed visual inspections of the city's bridges and tunnels, and reminded New Yorkers to call 911 for emergency purposes only.

Consolidated Edison officials said they did not receive reports of any power outages.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said bus and subway service were not disrupted.

The Port Authority said all of its airports have resumed operations.

Amtrak service along the Northeast Corridor from Washington, D.C. to Boston is now operating at normal speed, but earlier Tuesday service was slowed between Baltimore to Washington.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was on vacation, said there were no reports of damage or power outages in the state, including at the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

He said the state's emergency system went off without a hitch.

"The system all worked, the state emergency management system. We practice and we drill this operation, but it worked today. It worked well," said the governor.

As a result of the earthquake, major cellphone providers were reporting heavy congestion and brief outages.

However, top national security advisers told President Barack Obama, who was vacationing in Martha's Vineyard, that there was no major damage to infrastructure due to the quake.

White House officials also said no major damage to facilities, such as airports or nuclear plants, was reported along the eastern United States.

Parts of the Pentagon, White House and U.S. Capitol were also evacuated.

A quake of this magnitude was capable of causing damage to older buildings, but the National Weather Service said the disturbance was far enough inland that it would not trigger a tsunami.

"It is a relatively large earthquake for the area," said Professor Larry Brown of Cornell University.

"We felt it here in Ithaca quite strongly. I was sitting up on the fourth floor and we felt this distinct boom and then boom-boom," said Professor Rowena Lohman of Cornell University.

Experts said there were a couple of pulses because different waves travel through the earth's crust and they go at different speeds.

They also say there is no evidence earthquakes are on the rise, despite recent high-profile media coverage of quakes.

"People often feel that way there because as our coverage in the media increases and we just get more people in regions of the world that have earthquakes, you hear more about them and there's more damage and more buildings," said Lohman.

Shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, there was an aftershock with a magnitude of 4.2 in Virginia. Aftershocks are usually smaller than the initial quake and the chances of their occurring diminish with time.

New Yorkers Not Used To Quake Vibrations

Many New Yorkers, who are not exactly used to earthquakes, told NY1 they weren't sure what was happening at first.

"My desk started to shake, so then everybody on the floor decided to evacuate. We didn't know what it was, but we said let's not take any chances and just leave the building," said one worker in Manhattan.

"We felt the whole building shake. Our chairs and the light fixtures on our ceiling were shaking back and forth," said another.

The rumbles cracked the UV film on the windows of the Pfizer building on 42nd Street, but the company said there was no damage to the windows themselves or any other part of the building.

A woman working at the Helmsley Hotel on the East Side said she got quite a scare.

"I went to the 36th floor and was going to open one of the guest rooms and I feel the building moving like this," she said. "So I ran and I called the fourth floor and I said 'The building is moving.' And she said, 'No, I don't think so,' because they didn't feel anything. But meanwhile I feel this movement, and I thought the building was going to collapse."

From Times Square to the World Trade Center site, many workers left their buildings and some did not return to work.

It was the East Coast's strongest earthquake since 1944, but California has experienced 35 earthquakes of that magnitude in the same time period.

Earthquake Fails To Rattle Wall Street

While the earthquake shook the nerves of many New Yorkers Tuesday, it was practically business as usual on Wall Street.

Trading never stopped on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, though a building next door was evacuated for about 20 minutes.

One trader who spoke with NY1 spoke with said he was worried, but not scared.

"It felt like there was a big subway train going underneath the building here, very quietly, but you could feel everything vibrate and just shift around a little bit. No one really knew exactly what was going on at the time," said the trader. "I wasn't scared, I was, you know, more concerned just to make sure that it wasn't anything that was harmful going on to our building."

Other traders said they received several calls from their clients wanting to make sure everything was okay.

While volume was lighter, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 322 points -- its biggest gain in nearly two weeks.

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