5.9 Magnitude Earthquake Hits East Coast, Aftershocks Expected [Videos/Pics]


An earthquake centered 340 miles south of New York sent thousands of people running out of swaying office buildings across the city and briefly grounded flights at Kennedy and Newark airports.

It was the first major quake to hit New York in decades.

The initial government estimate was that the quake’s magnitude was 5.9 on the Richter Scale with an epicenter located in Mineral, Va., near Richmond.


The quake, which hit at 1:51 p.m. and lasted only a few seconds, was felt up and down the Eastern Seaboard – as far north as Toronto.

Wow, that was scary,” said Nathan Buck, 41, a filmmaker who was editing an internet video on the 7th floor of a pre-war building in Harlem.

I saw my globe start to wobble. At first I thought – is it me? Then a pile of CDs came crashing down.”

In New York, City Hall and police headquarters were evacuated.

No problems were reported with the MTA’s bridges and tunnels or the subway, but flights at Newark and Kennedy Airports were briefly delayed as a precaution.

Gov Cuomo
said there was no damage to the power grid or the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

Thousands of frightened workers congregated on city sidewalks, afraid to return to their jobs for fear of aftershocks.


Frightened New Yorkers flood the downtown streets

Mayor Bloomberg said he thought his desk in City Hall began shaking because of major construction in the historic building.

He and staffers hurried from the building, pouring down the iconic front steps and urging each other to run faster from what some feared was a building about to explode.

As it became clear that the shaking was not just limited to City Hall, the mayor and his aides relaxed and began joking.

It could have been an exploding story in a tabloid for all I know,” the mayor quipped.

We so far have no reports of any damage any place and let’s just hope that nobody got injured or killed in this.”

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly
was in the NYPD’s 14th floor executive command center planning a 9-11 memorial service.

We felt a rumbling and the floor shaking underneath,” said his spokesman, Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne.

Mary Lupoli
, 64, a supervisor in the NYPD’s public inquiry office at 1 Police Plaza, said she thought the worst when the evacuation order came

I kind of thought it could be a terrorist attack. It’s THAT time,” she said.


The 26-story federal courthouse in lower Manhattan began swaying and hundreds of people fled into the street.

There were no initial reports of serious damage.

The FDNY was investigating a report of a partial collapse of a water tower on a rooftop in Red Hook.

In downtown Brooklyn, office workers streamed out of buildings and big crowds formed on the sidewalks as people milled around, confused or scared to go back inside.

Cell networks were overwhelmed, so people lined up to use payphones.

Everything was shaking – your desk, the doors, the windows. We just ran out,” said Denise Bluger, 40, an administrative worker from Queens Village.

It was the first time I ever felt anything like that. It was like, ‘Oh my God, is this building about to fall down?‘”

Marc Lieberman
, 50, a paralegal who lives on the upper East Side, felt everything sway in his 23rd floor office.

The room moved. I moved. It was just weird,” he said. “So we just got the hell out.”

Belinda Bryant, 48, of the Bronx, who works on the fourth floor of 16 Court St. in Brooklyn, said she wasn’t going back inside.

You know there is an aftershock, so I know I’m not staying around here,” she said. “Now I’m glad we practice fire drills.”

In Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, Ted Lewin, a 76-year-old children’s book illustrator, said he still queasy 20 minutes after the sickly swaying stopped.

I still can feel it in my stomach a little bit. It’s really funny what it does to you,” he said.

In Washington, DC, the Pentagon and Capitol – along with most of the downtown buildings – were evacuated.

People stand in the street in downtown Washington after office buildings where evacuated following an earthquake in the Washington area

The quake was also felt on Martha’s Vineyard where President Obama was playing golf when it hit.

The last big earthquake felt in New York was in 1992, when a 4.7 magnitude quake shook buildings.

The biggest earthquake to ever hit New York was a 5.2 temblor on Aug. 10, 1884. It knocked down some chimneys.

Sources: New York Daily News, CNN and USA Today


A bride in her wedding dress runs from the courthouse in Lower Manhattan in New York


Office workers gather on a sidewalk after their building was evacuated following an earthquake in New York.



People who came out on the street after an earthquake look up at a window that cracked during the quake on Market Street in Philadelphia


People gather outside of their buildings after being evacuated following an earthquakein New York City.