No major damage or injuries reported as New York is rocked by earthquake

An earthquake shook the densely populated New York City metropolitan area on Friday with residents across the north east of the US reporting rumbling in a region unaccustomed to it.

The US Geological Survey reported a quake at 10.23am with a preliminary magnitude of 4.8, centred near Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, or about 45 miles west of New York City and 50 miles north of Philadelphia.

The agency’s figures indicated that the quake might have been felt by more than 42 million people.

People from Baltimore to the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border reported feeling the ground shake.

A person looks at an emergency alert on their smartphone after the earthquake near New York (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

“Pretty weird and scary,” Shawn Clark said after feeling the quake in his 26th-floor midtown Manhattan office.

Clark, a lawyer, initially feared an explosion or construction accident.

His colleague, Finn Dusenbery, worried the ceiling or even the building would collapse.

East Coast Earthquake
The residents of New York are unused to earthquakes (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

In midtown Manhattan, traffic grew louder as motorists blared their horns on shuddering streets.

Some Brooklyn residents heard a boom and felt their building shaking.

Mobile phone circuits were overloaded for a time as people tried to reach loved ones and figure out what was going on.

East Coast Earthquake
The command centre at the New York City emergency management department sprung into action (AP Photo/Brittainy Newman)

“Is it an earthquake?” Ms Soeripto wondered aloud, then asked if it was all right to go ahead. She did, but soon diplomats’ phones blared with earthquake alerts.

In New York City’s Astoria neighbourhood, Cassondra Kurtz was giving her 14-year-old Chihuahua, Chiki, a cocoa-butter rubdown for its dry skin.

Ms Kurtz was recording the moment on video, as an everyday memory of the dog’s older years, when her apartment started shaking hard enough that a large mirror banged audibly against a wall.

Ms Kurtz assumed at first it was a big truck going by. The video captured her looking around, perplexed. Chiki, however, “was completely unbothered”.

Earthquakes are less common on the eastern than western edges of the US because the East Coast does not lie on a boundary of tectonic plates.

The biggest Eastern quakes usually occur along the mid-Atlantic Ridge, which extends through Iceland and the Atlantic Ocean.

Quakes on the East Coast can still pack a punch, as its rocks are better than their western counterparts at spreading earthquake energy across far distances.

“If we had the same magnitude quake in California, it probably wouldn’t be felt nearly as far away,” said USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso.

A 4.8-magnitude quake is not large enough to cause damage, except for some minor effects near the epicentre, the agency posted on X.

Earthquakes with magnitudes near or above 5.0 struck near New York City in 1737, 1783 and 1884, the USGS said.

And Friday’s stirred memories of the August 23 2011 earthquake that jolted tens of millions of people from Georgia to Canada.

With an epicentre in Virginia, it left cracks in the Washington Monument and rattled New Yorkers ahead of the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.

Registering magnitude 5.8, it was the strongest earthquake to hit the East Coast since the Second World War.

On Friday, the White House said in a statement that President Joe Biden had been briefed on the earthquake and was “in touch with federal, state, and local officials as we learn more”.

As of noon, New York City had no indications of “major life safety or infrastructure issues from the earthquake,” mayor Eric Adams said on X, adding that the city was inspecting critical areas.

New York governor Kathy Hochul posted on X that the quake was felt throughout the state, but officials had no reports of any life-threatening problems.

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