The earthquake that struck central Virginia on Tuesday afternoon interrupted musicians working in a studio in Richmond, Va., some 40 miles southeast from the quake's epicenter.

Josh Archut, a volunteer at evangelical Christian parachurch organization Youth With A Mission in Richmond, was in the group's studio when the earthquake, which measured 5.9 on the Richter scale, hit.

There was some shaking and you could feel the ground moving, said Archut, 19. We could see our speakers shaking. You could see them moving back and forth and you could see the whole building shaking. But nothing was damaged and we never lost communication. Some people got on Facebook right away and were able to post messages.

A friend of Archut's said the shaking continued for about 20 seconds and that a number of people in the one-story studio went outside to see what was happening.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake struck at 1:51 pm EDT.

No fatalities were immediately reported.

In New York City, City Hall and the federal courthouse were evacuated.

City Hall in Newark, N.J., was evacuated just before 2 p.m., as the building shook.

The quake jammed the emergency phone lines in South Brunswick, N.J. The 911 line is flooding with calls right now, a police official told a local paper People want to know what happened. They want to know if there was an explosion.

Landline service is apparently down in the Washington DC-Baltimore area.

Phone circuits in the D.C. and Maryland area are flooded, making calls into or out of the area difficult.