Powerful quake hits DC region

Posted at 08/24/11 3:37 AM

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA - A powerful magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck the Metro DC area Tuesday, 1:50 p.m. (US time).

The tremor shook buildings. Cubicle partitions swayed and the floor seemed ready to pop up from the force of the quake – only the 25th to strike Virginia since it started keeping records – but there were no visible signs of damage.

People streamed toward open areas.

Cell phone services were knocked out, adding to the confusion in an area unaccustomed to earthquakes.

The quake that lasted several seconds started off with a swaying motion before it started pushing up the floor. There were no immediate reports of casualties but the tremor left many people shaken.

There are about 40,000 Filipinos and Filipino-Americans living in the Metro DC region.

There were concerns about the state of tall structures because these are not really designed for powerful earthquakes. Some groceries reported long queues of people stocking up emergency supplies following warnings of possible aftershocks.

Commuter trains were still running but at reduced speed. The Alexandria police reported heavy to moderate traffic.

The US Geological Society traced the epicenter near Mineral, Virginia. They warned of possible aftershocks.

Some government offices decided to send their workers home early.

The last major earthquake that struck Virginia was in July 2010. It measured 3.6 in magnitude.