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Earthquake Shakes Eastern US


People use the stairs to evacuate a building in Washington after an earthquake hit the Washington area, August 24, 2011

People use the stairs to evacuate a building in Washington after an earthquake hit the Washington area, August 24, 2011

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake has rocked much of the U.S. east coast, shaking buildings and sending panicked office workers into the streets in places like Washington.

The earthquake shook the region Tuesday afternoon. The U.S. Geological Survey says the temblor was centered near Mineral, Virginia, or 135 kilometers southwest of Washington. The quake was the strongest in Virginia since 1897.

Authorities evacuated the U.S. Capitol building, the Pentagon, and other federal buildings, including VOA headquarters, which temporarily stopped normal broadcasting after the ground began shaking. Washington's major museums also closed for the rest of the day.

Witnesses said about three spires broke off the Washington National Cathedral, but there were no reports of injuries.

The quake was felt as far north as Boston, including in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where President Barack Obama is vacationing.

Shaking was also felt as far west as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and as far south as Atlanta, Georgia.

Transportation systems in New York and other cities resumed operating after delays.

Federal officials say two nuclear reactors in Louisa County, Virginia, were automatically taken off line by safety systems. Officials were going to the area to inspect the sites.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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