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Virginia earthquake shakes Ohio

Virginia earthquake shakes Ohio

August 23rd, 2011 by JoANNE VIVIANO, Associated Press in News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Office buildings swayed near the Statehouse and the press box shook at a Cleveland Indians game Tuesday when a 5.9-magnitude earthquake in Virginia reached Ohio.

Tremors were felt in the state's Appalachian region and stretched as far west as Dayton and to the north along Lake Erie.

No damages or injuries were reported in the first minutes after the quake in central Ohio or statewide, said Kelly Blackwell, spokeswoman for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.

In Cincinnati, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, along the Ohio River, was briefly evacuated after tremors were felt.

Spokeswoman Stephanie Creech said a small group of elderly people from a nursing home were among the some 50 museum visitors and staff who moved outside for 20 to 25 minutes after the building's floors shook.

"It was felt. Things moved on people's desks," she said. Among them: a bobblehead of Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker, which began nodding vigorously.

"We took everybody out as a precaution. We're very safety-conscious."

She said she didn't believe any of the museum's artwork and photos fell from walls and there appeared to be no damage to other artifacts in the building, which shows the history of the network that helped Civil War era slaves escape.

The quake was felt sporadically in Columbus. Some visitors to the nearby Statehouse didn't feel a thing, and nor did residents in the city's northwestern suburbs a few miles from downtown. But southeast of the city, in Lancaster, people temporarily evacuated Fairfield County Municipal Court house.

A few dozen office workers were evacuated from a 13-story downtown Columbus building, but most were back inside in a few minutes. Some on the upper floors reported windows popping and ceiling tiles cracking.

One of the workers, banking assistant Amy Gentry, was going through email when she felt the quake, describing it as if "like a bulldozer might have hit it or something might have hit the building."

"Nothing scary, just something out of the ordinary," added Gentry, 25, who is from Columbus but hadn't felt a quake before.

"It just doesn't happen here," she said.

In Sandusky in northwest Ohio, office employees at Cedar Point amusement park felt the quake, but none of the rides had to be shut down, said Robin Innes, a spokesman for the park along Lake Erie in Sandusky.

In Cleveland, the Indians and Seattle Mariners were in the first game of a double header when the press box above home plate and the third-base line moved left and right and some fans headed toward the exits. Play was not interrupted at Progressive Field, and the Indians reported no structural damage.

"I thought it was the wind. I know the stadium is made to move, but I didn't know what was moving it," said fan Tim Hammond. "A lot of people got up and were like 'We're out of here.'"

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Dan Sewell in Cincinnati, Andrew Welsh-Huggins and Kantele Franko in Columbus, John Seewer in Toledo and Tom Withers in Cleveland.