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5.8-magnitude quake jolts eastern U.S.
Question of the Day
But the second tremor sent screaming patrons and tourists rushing for the escalators, as the ground shook and chunks of the court’s ceiling fell among the tables.
“It was like something out of a disaster movie,” one witness said. “We didn’t know if it was a train crash or a terrorist event or what. If one of those pieces of the ceiling had hit somebody, there would definitely have been some serious injuries.”
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said the state sustained “very, very minor” damage and injuries from the quake, which briefly disrupted some polling places for Virginia’s primary elections. Scattered power outages also were reported across the area.
In Arlington, the location of some of the D.C. area’s tallest buildings, workers and residents fled high-rises as walls shook visibly and the quake was strong enough to knock books off of shelves.
“I was working, and I just felt a big vibration,” said Sweta Mehta, who was in her condo in the Courthouse neighborhood. “I thought it was some construction going on. Then it paused, and it started happening again, and I freaked out. I ran out and screamed in the hallways, but there was no one there. It was a really scary experience.”
Another Arlington resident, Pete Van Voris, noticed “a full inch to an inch-and-a-half of movement” of the walls in his condo.
“First, it was a real significant shake, a duration of six or seven seconds,” Mr. Van Voris said. “And then another one that was probably twice as large hit immediately thereafter. By that time, we were all moving down the stairs to get out of the building. The only thing I stopped for was a key and a computer.”
The start of the Washington Nationals game Tuesday night was delayed 21 minutes while Nationals Park was inspected.
A store clerk in Mineral told The Washington Times her store was “a disaster” by the time the minutes of shaking finally stopped.
“We have a train that goes by the store and at first we thought it was a train backing up or picking up off the tracks,” said the woman, who withheld her name because she was not authorized to speak publicly about the business. “It was shaking everywhere. Shaking the building.”
The woman said three customers and several employees had been in the store.
“God bless whoever was watching this store and those people — because two were old.”
The woman described a residential area in which “chimneys [were] hanging off roofs and a house up the road had been demolished.”
Within an hour of the quake, President Obama led a conference call with Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Greg Jaczko, and various White House staff, including National Security and Homeland Security advisers Tom Donilon and John Brennan, and Chief of Staff Bill Daley.
The president was told that there were no reports of major damage and no requests for assistance from state and local authorities, and he asked for regular updates on the situation, said deputy press secretary Josh Earnest.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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