Earthquake Causes Confusion, Evacuation In Mass.

By WGBH Staff & Wires

Aug. 23, 2011

BOSTON — An earthquake centered in Virginia has caused confusion and buildings evacuations in Boston, but no serious injuries have been reported.

MIT graduate student Geraldine Paulus felt tremors from the 5.8 earthquake, centered in Virginia, from her office at MIT.

Office workers gather on the sidewalk in downtown Washington, Tuesday, moments after a 5.9 magnitude tremor shook the Nation's capital.

"We felt our office shake, go back and forth, for like a minute and a half. I was on the phone at the moment and I had no idea what was going on, I was just looking around at people who were like, ‘Are we moving?,’" recalled Paulus.

Boston police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said the department received a rush of 911 calls from people wondering what was happening when the quake was felt in the city.

But Peter Judge of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said no injuries or damage were reported statewide and the region's nuclear power plants were undisturbed.

"We proactively reached out to the three nuclear power plants that impact Massachusetts down in Pilgrim, up in Seabrooke and then up in Vermont Yankee. They report no issues associated with the earthquake," Judge said.

A Logan International Airport spokesman says the airport remains open, though teams are double-checking structures around the airport and air travel delays have been reported.

Workers emptied into Boston streets as buildings were evacuated, including an eight-story building in the seaport district and several buildings in Kendall Square like the Cambrige Innovation Center.

Michelle Berry, a fiscal administration at MIT, was in her sixth-floor office when she started to feel shaking — and first thought she might be getting dizzy. "I felt it and saw and looked and saw my blinds going back and forth and I had a glass of water and that had ripples in it that was going back and forth," Berry said.

Earthquakes are rare in Massachusetts. Berry said she and her coworkers didn't initially believe that's what had happened. "Almost everybody in the office thought it was them at first."

The quake was felt at the Boston Public Library, too:

Leventhal Map Center News: During the earthquake our collection of #globes shook, including the one seen here.... than a minute ago via Facebook Favorite Retweet Reply

Did you feel today's earthquake? Tell us in the comments.

This report was compiled by WGBH's Jess Bidgood, with additional reporting from the Associated Press and WGBH's Jordan Weinstein.

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