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4.8m earthquake hits New York City

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A 4.8-magnitude earthquake struck near New York City on Friday morning, the US Geological Survey said, shaking buildings up and down the East Coast and surprising residents in an area that rarely experiences notable seismic activity.

The quake’s epicentre was in Tewksbury, in central New Jersey, about 40 miles (64 kilometres) west of New York City. It occurred just after 10:20 a.m. ET (1420 GMT) at a depth of 4.7 kilometres (2.9 miles), the USGS said.

At 5:59 p.m., there was a small but noticeable aftershock, which had a magnitude of 4.0, according to the USGS.

Engineering teams were inspecting roads and bridges, but there were no major damage reports.

“This is one of the largest earthquakes on the East Coast in the last century,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul said at a news conference.

Although there had been no reports of injuries, New York City Mayor Eric Adams urged city residents to seek shelter under furniture, in a doorway, or next to an interior wall if they felt aftershocks.

“New Yorkers should go about their normal day,” he said at a news conference.

Charita Walcott, a 38-year-old resident in the Bronx borough of New York, said the quake felt “like a violent rumble that lasted about 30 seconds or so.”

“It was kind of like being in a drum circle—that vibration,” she said.

Although there were no reports of injuries or significant damage, James Pittinger, the mayor of Lebanon, New Jersey, close to the quake’s epicentre, noted that people were uneasy.

“I was sitting in my home office when things started to fall off the walls and shelves,” Pittinger said. “It was a crazy experience.”

US President Joe Biden spoke with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy about the earthquake, and the administration will provide assistance if needed, the White House said in a statement.

As cameras began shuddering at the United Nations in midtown Manhattan, the Save the Children CEO abruptly stopped addressing the Security Council on the Israel-Gaza conflict.

“You’re making the ground shake,” Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour quipped.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that after the earthquake, flights resumed at area airports by 12:30 p.m. Residual delays were expected.

The city felt its largest tremor since a 5.8-magnitude earthquake in Virginia in 2011, which prompted the evacuation of City Hall and other buildings and caused damage in Washington.

Earthquake magnitudes are measured on a logarithmic scale, which means the amount of energy released by a quake increases by more than 30 times for each whole number.

The 1989 earthquake, measuring 6.9 magnitude, disrupted baseball’s World Series and rocked San Francisco, making it more than 1,000 times more powerful than Friday’s quake.

According to the USGS, the bedrock in the eastern US is much older and harder, transferring seismic energy more easily and making earthquakes felt across a far broader area. The rocks in the western United States are younger and contain more faults that absorb earthquake energy.

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