As a magnitude 5.9 earthquake hit Virginia Tuesday afternoon, shock waves rang throughout the East Coast, sending tremors across Rhode Island and causing government agencies across the country and state to evacuate.
According to the Meteorologist Allan Dunham for the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass., a magnitude 5.9 earthquake was felt across the Mid-Atlantic region Tuesday at 1:51 p.m. The epicenter was located 27 miles east of Charlottesville, Va., or 34 miles southwest of Fredericksburg, Va., or 39 miles northwest of Richmond, Va.
The last quake of equal power to strike the East Coast was in New York in 1944. The largest East Coast quake on record was a 7.3 that hit South Carolina in 1886. In 1897, a magnitude-5.9 quake was recorded at Giles County, Va., the largest on record in that state according to the Associated Press.
Although a 5.9 earthquake is considered mild in the West Coast, according to the US Geological Survey, in the East Coast, where it rarely occurs, it was shocking, causing disruptions from New York to the Pentagon in Virginia to Providence as office workers rushed out of buildings, including the state house atop Smith Hill.
After tremors reached the state’s capital in Providence, the state house was evacuated after 2 p.m., Christine Hunsinger, Director of Communications for the Governor’s Office said.
“The Capitol Police made the evacuations. When inside a building, the natural inclination is to evacuate the building for general safety,” Hunsinger said.
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