5.8-Magnitude Quake Unnerves East Coast

No reports of serious injuries

TUESDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- A rare -- for the East Coast -- earthquake rumbled up and down the eastern seaboard of North America Tuesday afternoon, jumbling nerves as far south as Atlanta and as far north as Canada.

The 5.8-magnitude quake was centered near Louisa, Va., about 85 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. The shaking forced the evacuations of all the monuments on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., as well as partial evacuations of the Pentagon, the White House and the Capitol, according to the Associated Press. And it prompted workers to walk out of office buildings in cities from Baltimore to Boston.

The quake was felt as far north as Toronto, as far west as Indiana and Kentucky and as far south as Georgia.

There were no reports of serious injuries from the temblor, which struck shortly before 2 p.m. eastern time. According to media reports, cell phone service was disrupted in some centers, probably due to a high volume of calls.

The quake did cause operators of two nuclear reactors in the same county as Louisa, Va., to take the plants off line as a precaution so safety systems could be examined, the AP reported, citing a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman.

"It's a minor earthquake," said Dr. Charles Marmar, professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. "Most people will go about their business without any distress."

But, he added, people who have experienced traumatic events such as the terrorist attack of Sept. 11 or combat may have more severe reactions.

"Sometimes people with mental illness can be more affected if they overgeneralize the threat; some people who have previous exposure to very severe traumatic events could be more affected," Marmar said.

"If someone were very heavily exposed to 9/11 or to combat or other stresses, they might be more unsettled by this. But, in general people do well."

More information

For more details on the quake, visit the U.S. Geological Survey.

HealthDay staff SOURCES: Charles Marmar. M.D., professor and chair, Department of Psychiatry, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City; U.S. Geological Survey; Associated Press

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