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The Day the Earth Moved

For the first time since 1959, residents of Northern Virginia felt the earth move.

An earthquake occurred at 3:59 p.m. Tuesday and registered 4.5 on the Richter Scale. There was minor damage to buildings in Richmond but no reports of injuries anywhere in the Commonwealth.

According to the National Earthquake Information Center in Boulder, Colo., the quake’s epicenter was located near the town of Columbia in Virginia. Virginia’s largest earthquake occurred on May 31, 1897, when a 5.8 magnitude quake rolled through the Commonwealth, centering in Giles County.

LOCALLY, a number of people felt something. Cathy Leary of Mount Vernon dozed off after reading her book club selection. She was awakened by what she thought was a diesel truck going by.

“I worried it was a plane,” she said. “It lasted about three seconds.”

Bonnie Christ was working in her office in Tysons Corner when she felt something rumble. “My desk started shaking and I said, wait a minute, something’s happening,” she said. “We felt and heard it. If you were walking or driving, you probably wouldn’t have felt it.”

Amy Bertsch, a spokesperson for the Alexandria Police Department, said that police received two earthquake-related calls.

“Our 911 center received one call from a resident in Del Ray and I received a call from a business in the 500-block of King Street,” Bertsch said. “One of our staff here also thought he might have felt something.”

No after-shocks were felt in this region.