Virginia 5.8 Earthquake Rattles East Coast

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One of the strongest quakes to hit the East Coast in decades rattled buildings today from Virginia and Washington, D.C., to as far away as New York City.

After eight earthquakes rattled Colorado yesterday, including one early this morning of magnitude 5.3, today's magnitude 5.8 in Virginia adds to an impression that the eastern continental United States is having a bit of a stretch.

[UPDATE: Preliminary U.S. Geological Survey seismometer reports estimated the quake at 5.9 magnitude. As of 4 p.m. EDT, USGS seismologists have reviewed the data and revised the magnitude to 5.8 and the depth to 3.7 miles.]

The Agence France-Presse reported that "the Pentagon, the US Capitol and Union Station in the nation's capital were all evacuated after the 5.9-magnitude quake, which was shallow with its epicenter only 0.6 miles (one kilometer) underground."

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In Silver Spring, Md., Discovery Communications' main office was evacuated as employees felt today's 1:51 p.m. temblor. Discovery employees were told to go home for the day.

"At first I thought lots of people were jumping up and down, but then it got stronger. We don't get earthquakes here, so no one was sure what to do, whether to get under the desks or what. After the shaking subsided, I left the building quick. It was scary," said Lori Cuthbert, editor-in-chief of Discovery News.

Several buildings throughout New York City were also evacuated, although no significant damage has been reported.

"In Brooklyn, N.Y., residents poured out of their homes and into the streets in confusion after feeling the floors shake beneath their feet," reported Amanda Onion, managing editor of Discovery News. "Construction workers on busy Fourth Avenue also streamed down from scaffolding to reach more stable ground," she added.

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USGS seismologist Lucy Jones told CNN that the earthquake in Virgina is one of the largest recorded for the state and she expects aftershocks to occur over the next two hours.

"This is one of the largest earthquakes on the East Coast in quite a while, in many decades at least," Jones said. "It's not unprecedented. But it's one of the largest we've had there."

Damage to water and gas lines is also a concern right now and should be taken into consideration before returning inside buildings.