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Earthquake centred near New York City possibly felt by 42 million people

NEW YORK –

An earthquake shook the densely populated New York City metropolitan area Friday morning, the U.S. Geological Survey said, with residents across the Northeast reporting rumbling in a region where people are unaccustomed to feeling the ground move.

The agency reported a quake at 10:23 a.m. with a preliminary magnitude of 4.8, centred near Lebanon, New Jersey, or about 45 miles west of New York City and 50 miles north of Philadelphia. USGS figures indicated that the quake might have been felt by more than 42 million people.

New York City’s emergency notification system said in a social media post more than 30 minutes after the quake that it had no reports of damage or injuries in the city. Mayor Eric Adams had been briefed on the quake, his spokesperson Fabien Levy said, adding, “While we do not have any reports of major impacts at this time, we’re still assessing the impact.”

In midtown Manhattan, the usual cacophony of traffic grew louder as motorists blared their horns on momentarily shuddering streets. Some Brooklyn residents heard a booming sound and their building shaking. In an apartment house in Manhattan’s East Village, a resident from more earthquake-prone California calmed nervous neighbours.

People in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Connecticut and other areas of the Northeast reported shaking. Tremors lasting for several seconds were felt over 200 miles away near the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border.

This image provided by U.S. Geological Survey shows the epicentre of an earthquake on the East Coast of the U.S. on Thursday, April 5, 2024. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)

In New York City’s Astoria neighbourhood, Cassondra Kurtz was giving her 14-year-old Chihuahua, Chiki, a cocoa-butter rubdown for her dry skin. 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 9-foot (2.7-metre-tall) mirror banged audibly against a wall.

Kurtz assumed at first it was a big truck going by.

“I’m from Jersey, so I’m not used to earthquakes,” she explained later.

The video captured her looking around, perplexed. Chiki, however, “was completely unbothered.”

At a coffee shop in lower Manhattan, customers buzzed over the unexpected earthquake, which rattled dishware and shook the concrete counter. “I noticed the door trembling on its frame,” said India Hays, a barista. “I thought surely there couldn’t be an earthquake here.”

Solomon Byron was sitting on a park bench in Manhattan’s East Village when he felt an unfamiliar rumble. “I felt this vibration, and I was just like, where is that vibration coming from,” Byron said. “There’s no trains nowhere close by here or anything like that.” Byron said he didn’t realize there had been an earthquake until he got the alert on his cellphone.

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

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul posted on X that the quake was felt throughout the state. “My team is assessing impacts and any damage that may have occurred, and we will update the public throughout the day,” Hochul said.

Philadelphia police asked people not to call 911 about seismic activity unless they were reporting an emergency. Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said state officials were monitoring the situation. A spokesperson for Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont was unaware of any reports of damage in that state.

The shaking stirred memories of the Aug. 23, 2011, earthquake that jolted tens of millions of people from Georgia to Canada. Registering magnitude 5.8, it was the strongest quake to hit the East Coast since World War II. The epicentre was in Virginia.

That earthquake left cracks in the Washington Monument, spurred the evacuation of the White House and Capitol and rattled New Yorkers three weeks before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Associated Press journalists around the country contributed to this report, including Jake Offenhartz in New York City and Seth Borenstein in Washington.

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