Earthquake 2011
A 5.9 earthquake struck the east coast of the United States Tuesday afternoon. At least initially, there were no reports of any casualties. REUTERS

An earthquake sent tremors from Washington to New York City on Tuesday afternoon, and U.S. geological officials and other authorities said it was a 5.9 magnitude earthquake based in Virginia.

The movement lasted no more than 30 seconds in downtown Washington, The New York Times reported.

The earthquake, which hit at 1:51 p.m. EDT, measured a preliminary 5.9 and lasted up to 45 seconds, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). It shook office buildings and homes and rattled residents. The USGS warned of aftershocks.

Its epicenter was reported about 4 miles southwest of Mineral, Va., near Richmond, Va., and about 80 miles south of Washington, D.C.

Witnesses reported a low rumble that grew to distinct and sustained shaking, rattling windows and fraying nerves.

In New York City, specifically in Lower Manhattan in the financial district, the tremor was felt at the 7 Hanover Square skyscraper office building, which is home to the International Business Times, on the building's 5th floor.

Employees in the newsroom felt the building move slightly, and detected a swaying sensation that affected their desks and work stations. Another employee who was at home at the time in Greenwich Village, a Lower Manhattan neighborhood, said his televsion set was slightly jostled. Initally, he thought it was a problem related to the apartment building, but then realized it was a quake when others in the building and neighborhood experienced the same sensation.