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The U.S. east coast has been hit by a strong earthquake this afternoon. The earth quake was centered in Charlottesville while another quake occurred in Colorado, with a preliminary magnitude of 5.3 and centered about nine miles from the city of Trinidad at 11:46 p.m. local time. The quake reached Greeley, and all the way into Kansas and New Mexico, said Julie Dutton, a geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo. There have been no reports of injuries or widespread damage.
Update at 1:57 p.m. ET: The Associated Press reports that the Pentagon is being evacuated.
An apparent earthquake rocks Washington, D.C. area.
Fox news reports that several public buildings, including the Capitol, have been evacuated.
Update at 2:18 p.m. ET: In “the East Coast you have this old hard, cold crust that does a lovely job of transmitting the waves,” says Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “This large of an earthquake …. could definitely have been felt hundreds of miles away.”
Update at 2:16 p.m. ET: Fox News reports that JFK airport has been shut down because of the quake.
Update at 2:15 p.m. ET: “It scared the heck out of me, I’m still shaking,” said Joan Morris, spokewoman for the northern district of the Virginia Department of Transportation. A few minutes after the quake, there were no reports of damage to roads or bridges in the state, Morris said.
Update at 2:13 p.m. ET: The USGS now puts the magnitude of the quake at 5.9.
Update at 2:12 p.m. ET: The quake could be felt in McLean, Va., headquarters of USA TODAY. It caused the building to sway. Some items could be heard falling from shelves. A number of employees went left the building.
Update at 2:10 p.m. ET: NBC reports that the quake was centered nine miles from Mineral, Va., which is 100 miles south of Washington, D.C.
Says Doug Kammerer, meteorologist with the NBC affiliate in Washington, calls the tremor a “very big earthquake for our area.”