Earthquake shakes New York City and north-eastern US

Quake measuring 4.8 in magnitude with epicentre in New Jersey deemed strongest in region since 1884

The Manhattan skyline. Friday's earthquake rocked skyscrapers in the borough in New York City. Reuters
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One of New York's largest earthquakes in more than a century, with a magnitude of 4.8, shook city skyscrapers on Friday and was felt across the north-eastern region of the US.

“This is one of the largest earthquakes on the East Coast to occur in the last century,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul said in a press briefing.

It was the strongest in the area since 1884, Bloomberg reported, citing the US Geological Survey.

Ms Hochul said officials were taking the incident “extremely seriously”, given the possibility of aftershocks.

An aftershock earthquake was experienced at around 6pm local time, local residents shared on social media.

Deputy Mayor Fabien Levy posted on X, "we just felt what we assume is a small aftershock" and "we are waiting on confirmation from USGS".

There were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage from the quake, which was centred in Lebanon, New Jersey.

US President Joe Biden told reporters that he had spoken with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and said "things are alright".

People as far away as Boston to the north-east and the nation's capital of Washington to the south felt the shaking.

The USGS measured the quake at a magnitude of 4.8, while the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre recorded it at 5.1 at a depth of 10km.

“My computer monitor started shaking and the water in my glass was moving like the scene from Jurassic Park,” Tim Schraeder Rodriguez, a writer based in Manhattan, told The National.

Many New Yorkers — accustomed to rumblings from subways, road traffic and construction in a noisy city — first thought the quake was something else.

"Initially, I thought there was something wrong with the boiler in the apartment," Lauren Rogers, an events producer in Brooklyn, told The National.

"Quickly, I realised it was not the boiler, but an earthquake. All of our neighbours exited from their apartments to confirm we all felt the quake."

A New York City Police Department representative told Reuters that it had not received any reports of damage.

Mayor Eric Adams recommended New Yorkers to go about their normal days.

“At this point, we do not have any reports of major impacts to our infrastructure or injuries,” said Mr Adams. “But of course we're still assessing the situation, and will continue to update the public.

“Earthquakes don't happen every day in New York, so this can be extremely traumatic.”

The Federal Aviation Administration said normal flights had resumed at New York City airports after ground stops were put into place, though delays may be experienced for the rest of the day.

“While there's many things New Yorkers need to be prepared for, an earthquake wasn't on my bingo card,” Mr Schraeder Rodriguez said.

Ms Rogers shared the same sentiment, searching online for "what to do in case of an earthquake" afterwards.

"As a forever New Yorker, we don't ever think about earthquakes, but now, I have to add it to my list of worries," she said.

"Mother Nature isn't playing around!"

Reporters at the UN building in Manhattan felt the building shake and proceedings at the Security Council, which was discussing the situation in Gaza, were halted briefly while officials determined what was happening.

Moment earthquake shakes UN in New York – video

Moment earthquake shakes UN in New York

Moment earthquake shakes UN in New York

“You're making the ground shake,” Palestine's ambassador Riyad Mansour told the head of Save the Children, whose remarks were interrupted by the quake.

Friday's tremor comes after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan on Wednesday, the strongest in the island in at least 25 years.

Lebanon sits in north-western New Jersey, with the area's name probably derived from the Bible, according to website Living Places.

The first settlers in the area were from Germany and they founded a German reformed church in the 18th century.

Authorities halted travel in the Holland Tunnel, a major Hudson River crossing between the city and New Jersey, to inspect it for any possible damage.

New Jersey Transit warned commuters that there may be delays due to bridge inspections.

Amtrak also enacted speed restrictions in the North-east corridor.

Updated: April 05, 2024, 10:14 PM