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Thursday, 25 August 2011

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Earthquake rattles US East Coast

US: Thousands of people across the US East Coast raced frantically into the streets Tuesday as an earthquake sent shock waves of the kind last seen almost exactly a decade ago on September 11.

The US eastern seaboard has few larger earthquakes. Many workers were bewildered — and feared the worst — as their desks swayed violently and their ceilings and walls shook.

In a region days away from commemorating the trauma of the September 11, 2001 attacks, many immediately suspected terrorism as they raced down stairways to parks and street corners.

Kacie Marano, who works at a think-tank two blocks away from the White House, said that she worried that the earthquake could be something more sinister as the alarms went off and her books fell on the floor.

“Initially, I wasn’t sure it was an earthquake,” she said as she waited in a downtown park. “When we’re so close to the White House, you always have to think whether it’s an earthquake or something else.”

Kassandra Meholick, who works several blocks from the US Congress, said: “I thought for sure the Capitol was bombed.”

Many people in parks asked one another where they were on September 11, 2001. But unlike 10 years ago, the mood was more festive as people learned that there was little major damage.

Several bars in Washington smelled a business opportunity and declared earthquake happy hours for residents who did not want to brave the commuter crowds — or who were suddenly given the afternoon off.

“We have a lot of people who got half the day off and we’ve been busy all day,” said Lauren Smith, a bartender at The Ugly Mug bar on Capitol Hill which was offering drink specials.

Many major institutions from schools to the Smithsonian museums closed for the day, some in hopes of easing pressure on commuters. AFP

 

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