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5.6 magnitude quake rocks central Oklahoma on day of quakes; officials report no injuries
SPARKS, Okla. (AP) ' A 5.6 magnitude quake rocked central Oklahoma late Saturday after a day of smaller quakes, leaving cracked buildings and a buckled highway but no major damage. The temblor was so strong it rattled a college football stadium 50 miles away and could be felt in Tennessee.
The quake, centered about 44 miles northeast of Oklahoma City, may be the strongest in state history if the reading is confirmed by the U.S. Geological Survey after it initially reported a 5.2 magnitude event. Emergency authorities had no immediate reports of injuries or major damages. But the quake shook a packed college football stadium as fans departed just minutes after third-ranked Oklahoma State had beaten No. 17 Kansas State.
An emergency manager in Lincoln County near the epicenter said U.S. 62, a highway in the region, had crumbled in places when the strongest quake of the day struck at 10:53 p.m. Saturday. Other reports in the late-night hours were sketchy and mentioned cracks in some buildings and a chimney toppled.
The USGS said the Saturday night quake struck near the community of Sparks ' in eastern Oklahoma between Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
The temblor shook the stadium at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater where a crowd of 58,895 had gathered to watch the major college match. Oklahoma State's players were gathered in the locker room under the Boone Pickens Stadium stands just minutes after a 52-45 victory when the ground began to shake beneath their feet.
"Everybody was looking around and no one had any idea," Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden said. "We thought the people above us were doing something. I've never felt one, so that was a first."
The stands were already clearing out when the quake hit soon after the down-to-the-wire game had ended, the shaking felt for the better part of a minute in the stadium's press box.
"That shook up the place, had a lot of people nervous," Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon said. "Yeah, it was pretty strong."
A magnitude 4.7 earthquake that struck the area early Saturday rattled homes and businesses, but emergency officials said no injuries were reported and that there had been no immediate reports of major damages.
"Nothing is destroyed or anything like that," Prague City Police Department dispatcher Claudie Morton told the Tulsa World after a series of quakes Saturday morning.
But authorities said daybreak would allow them to better check on any damages from the latest temblor.
The Saturday night quake could prove the most powerful on state record if the 5.6 reading reported by the U.S. Geological Survey stands. The seismic monitoring agency said the quake was centered about 44 miles (71 kilometers) east-northeast of Oklahoma City. It had initially reported the temblor as a 5.2 magnitude quake.
The late-night quake was slightly less in intensity than a temblor that rattled the East Coast on Aug. 23. That 5.8 magnitude earthquake was centered in Virginia and was felt from Georgia to Canada. No major damage was reported, although cracks were reported at the Washington Monument, the National Cathedral suffered damage to stonework, and a number of federal buildings were evacuated.
USGS records show that a 5.5 magnitude earthquake struck El Reno, just west of Oklahoma City, in 1952 and, before Oklahoma became a state in 1907, a quake of similar magnitude 5.5 struck in northeastern Indian Territory in 1882.
The Saturday night quake was felt as far away as Tennessee and Wisconsin, according to reports received by the USGS.
In Moore, Todd McKinsey told The Oklahoman newspaper of Oklahoma City that his home suffered minor damage.
"There's a crack going from the closet to the ceiling. I've never seen that before. I was in my bedroom grabbing my phone and I happened to notice it," McKinsey said.
Saturday's earlier temblor, which hit at 2:12 a.m., woke people and pets as it shook an area that stretched from Texas to Missouri. Its epicenter was 6 miles north of Prague in Lincoln County, in the rolling hills about 50 miles east of Oklahoma City.
A 3.4 magnitude aftershock was reported at 2:27 a.m. from the same location, as well as a 2.7 magnitude aftershock at 2:44 a.m.
"Oh, man. I've never felt anything like that in my life," Morton said to the Tulsa newspaper. "It was the scariest thing. I had a police officer just come in and sit down and all the sudden the walls started shaking and the windows were rattling. It felt like the roof was going to come off the police department."
Morton said the office was flooded with calls, but no one reported injuries or major damage. She said residents told her that picture frames and mirrors fell from walls and broke, drawers worked loose from dressers and objects tumbled out of cabinets.
"We do have several damaged buildings downtown, but it's just cracks and things like that," Morton said.
Oklahoma Geological Survey researcher Austin Holland told Oklahoma City television station KOTV that the earthquake and aftershocks occurred on a known fault line.
Residents in Prague and Sparks felt an intense shaking, while farther away, the quake was more of a dull rumble, he said.
"It shakes much more rapidly when you're closer to it," he said. "Because it's a large earthquake, it's going to rumble for a while."
Holland said his office received hundreds of emails from people who felt the quake. The messages came from as far as Texas, Missouri and Arkansas, he said.
Tom Foster of Oklahoma City told The Oklahoman that he slept through the earthquake but was awakened by an aftershock.
"I know we've already had several phone calls from out of state relatives wondering what happened," Foster said. "I guess it's more interesting than anything that was dangerous."
Heather Spicer of Sapulpa said the shaking woke her son and their dog.
"At first I thought an airplane had crashed nearby," she told The Oklahoman. "But now I believe it was an earthquake because the whole house just kept vibrating with what sounded like distant thunder outside."
In Muskogee, retired advertising and public relations executive Robert Rhea said he felt his home rocking for about 15 to 20 seconds with the last quake Saturday night.
"Oh man, it just about shook this old man out of his TV chair," said Rhea, 70, speaking with The Associated Press by telephone. He said nothing broke in his homes but he was rattled by all the shaking during the day.