Magnitude 6.0 quake hits U.S. East Coast 23 Aug 11

The Pentagon, seen here, was evacuated during the earthquake.

(Reuters) – A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck the East Coast from Virginia to at least Boston on Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The earthquake was centered in Mineral, Virginia, which is 92 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake was initially reported at 5.8 magnitude.

The quake had a very shallow depth of 0.6 miles.

The Pentagon and Capitol Building in Washington were evacuated, as were courthouses in New York City. The earthquake sent Washington office workers scurrying into the streets.

A Reuters witness said the quake was felt as far away as Toronto, Canada.

Tremors shook New York City office buildings on Tuesday, prompting evacuations of courthouses, City Hall and halting work at the World Trade Center construction site, officials and witnesses said.

It was not immediately clear if there was any damage or injuries in the city, but fire department and police officials in Dutchess County, New York, reported structural damage to some buildings.

Trade went uninterrupted on the New York Stock Exchange, the NYSE said.

A spokesman for the city transit agency said the quake was felt but declined immediate comment on whether the subway system was affected.

Control towers at John F. Kennedy airport and Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey were also evacuated.

Christina Summers, a young mother who lives in New York City’s Greenwich Village, said she thought the shaking was caused by construction in a neighboring apartment.

“Holy cow! My couch was wiggling like those beds you put a quarter in,” Summers said.

People working in skyscrapers in Manhattan, including the United Nations headquarters, said they felt their buildings sway at about 1:52 p.m. on Tuesday.

The tremors struck as Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance had just started a news conference to explain why his office had decided to drop criminal sexual assault charges against former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The news conference was halted and state and federal buildings in lower Manhattan were evacuated as a precaution.

Flights from the New York area’s John F. Kennedy and Newark airports were being delayed while authorities inspected control towers and runways following the earthquake that struck the East Coast on Tuesday, officials said.

“We’re going to hope to resume operations. We are talking hours, not longer,” a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said.