Philadelphia area rattled by 5.8 earthquake in Va.

In Center City Philadelphia, windows were cracked on the Independence Blue Cross building in the area of 19th and Market.
August 23, 2011 6:40:33 PM PDT
A 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia has been felt across the area with people experiencing shaking buildings and slight tremors.

The earthquake was centered near Louisa, Va., which is northwest of Richmond and about 230 miles southwest of Philadelphia. There were also two aftershocks in Virginia, both below a 3-magnitude.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was half a mile deep.

Reports were coming in throughout Tuesday afternoon and evening of minor damage in the area.

RELATED: Red Cross Earthquake Safety

The quake could be to blame for statue damage on the roof of the Lourdes Medical Center in Camden.

The building's main entrance was closed after officials realized the Virgin Mary statue on the roof was loosened.

Hospital services are still running normally.

People are able to enter and exit the hospital through the emergency entrance.

Across the river in Philadelphia,a glass window shattered on a lower floor of the Independence Blue Cross building in Center City. Luckily a protective film stopped the glass from falling.

Hundreds of workers inside the building filtered outside shortly after the quake. Fire crews responded to the scene but no injuries were reported.

The company sent its 3,000 employees home for the day.

Philadelphia International Airport temporarily grounded departing flights and shut down security checkpoints for incoming passengers while officials inspected the runways and terminals, spokeswoman Victoria Lupica said. No one was evacuated and the airport resumed normal operations about 30 minutes later, she said.

Meanwhile, in Wilmington, the quake shattered part of the steeple of Saint Thomas the Apostle Church at 4th Street and Bancroft Parkway. Fortunately, nobody was injured by the falling blocks.

In New Jersey, Gloucester County Office of Emergency Management tells Action News the historic G.G. Green Building in downtown Woodbury suffered damage from the earthquake.

The building, located on Broad Street is vacant, and there were no injuries. Several bricks came down from the building onto the sidewalk and a few cracks were discovered in the foundation.

Rt. 45 was temporarily closed for short time after quake as the building was inspected.

The 6abc building in Philadelphia was shaking this afternoon as well. The Action News newsroom was taking calls all afternoon long from people all over the area with reports of the quake.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, on the scene in Southwest Philadelphia, reported that he felt very little shaking at all.

"While we were at the press conference and my pager started going crazy. We evacuated the building but not 911 radio communications," said Police Commissioner Ramsey.

In Center City many high rise and office buildings appeared to be evacuated as workers poured outside along 13th Street and JFK Boulevard.

"We were on the 11th floor and at first I thought I was having a back spasm. My neighbor thought he was having a heart attack. Everything just started shaking. We looked up and saw the windows in the other building start to shake," said Joseph Gruber, who works in the Municipal Services Building.

Ronald Robinson, an employee in the same building, was on the phone with his fianc?e at the time of the earthquake.

"I felt the floor doing a bounce motion then the cabinets on the fifth floor did a wave motion. I didn't want to be trapped. Everyone started running down stairs. It was jam-packed," said Robinson.

There is an increased police presence downtown, but many people are left outside of their buildings wondering what to do next.

A woman visiting her husband on the 12th floor of Hahnemann University Hospital tells Action News, "I was sitting at my husband's bedside. I felt something move and start to shake. I looked and I thought my husband was having a seizure but he wasn't. The bed was shaking - it was just such a weird feeling. I've never been through one of these before."

She went on to explain how a vital piece of equipment holding her husband's tracheotomy tube in place came loose, but nurses quickly responded to the rooms to check on patients after the quake.

People also rushed out of Citizens Bank Park, but there was no damage there. The Phillies game scheduled for Tuesday night will go on as scheduled.

In Reading, Pa., the earthquake caused the closure of the Penn Street Bridge for a portion of the day.

The bridge was closed between West Reading and downtown Reading.

Officials said they are examining cracks on the Penn Street Bridge.

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RELATED: Report from USGS website


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