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Several D.C. landmarks damaged in earthquake

by Jorge Hernandez on August 24, 2011

The earthquake that rocked the East Coast on Tuesday afternoon appears to have done little structural damage, but several prominent buildings in Washington, D.C. remain closed until further notice. According to the Associated Press, three of four pinnacles fell from the Washington National Cathedral while cracks were discovered in the 555-foot tall Washington Monument.

Despite scoffs from California residents who are used to regular tectonic shifts, the 5.9 magnitude quake rattled the nerves of residents up and down the Atlantic coast. The shocks could be felt as far away as Massachusetts, with many New York City residents grappling with fears the city had been the victim of another terrorist attack.

"We didn't know it was an earthquake. We didn't know what it was," an area worker told NY 1. "I thought it was another attack or something. I didn't think an earthquake. When is there an earthquake in New York?"

The quake was centered in Virginia and started just before 2 p.m. Though the area is sometimes known for smaller quakes, experts say that for one to be this large and to be felt so far away is unusual.

"This is the largest earthquake by far that I am aware of occurring there in recent history," Karen Fisher, a professor of seismology at Brown University, told Reuters.

Less than 12 after the East Coast quake, a smaller one was felt in San Francisco. CBS reported that a 3.6 magnitude earthquake hit the bay area shortly before midnight on Tuesday, which only sparked more shots at their countrymen on the other side of the country for their reaction to the quake earlier in the day.

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