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New York rattled by rare earthquake

April 6, 2024

Authorities in New York said there were no immediate reports of damage after the earthquake, which was also felt in nearby states. Strong seismic activity is uncommon in the northeastern United States.

The skyline of New York City
The 4.8 magnitude earthquake rattled buildings and surprised residentsImage: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty

New York City was rocked by a 4.8 magnitude earthquake on Friday, the US Geological Survey said.

The incident shook buildings and surprised residents in a region that rarely feels strong seismic activity. There were no initial reports of damage.

"New Yorkers should go about their normal day," New York Mayor Eric Adams said.

The earthquake's epicenter was near Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, the USGS said. It was also felt in northern Pennsylvania and western Connecticut.

"This is one of the largest earthquakes on the East Coast in the last century," said Kathy Hochul, governor of the state of New York.

The US Geological Survey said that over 42 million people may have felt the quake.

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New Yorkers react to vibrating city

The rare occurrence prompted a variety of reactions from New Yorkers.

"It was kind of like being in a drum circle, that vibration," one resident told the Reuters news agency.

The social media team for the iconic Empire State Building posted: "I AM FINE."

Meanwhile, at the United Nations headquarters on the Hudson River, a Security Council meeting was temporarily paused after the tremor.

"Is that an earthquake?" said Save the Children representative Janti Soeripto who was speaking at the time.

The earthquake also temporarily halted some trains and paused flights at some nearby, with the Federal Aviation Administration warning of knock-on delays.

An unusual occurrence

Earthquakes are uncommon on the East Coast of the US because the region does not lie on a faultline where two or more tectonic plates meet.

But when earthquakes do occur on the East Coast, they can be felt relatively far because the local geology spreads earthquake energy across longer 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.

Authorities said they would monitor buildings, roads and bridges for any delayed cracking.

Some flights were diverted or delayed and rain lines were suspended as a precautionary measure.

Nearly 30 people were displaced when officials evacuated three homes in Newark, New Jersey to check for damage.

zc/ab (AP, Reuters. AFP)