A 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck near Magna, Utah, on Wednesday morning, knocking out power for tens of thousands of people in the largest earthquake the state has felt since 1992, authorities said.
The earthquake struck the area at about 7 a.m. local time, with a preliminary measurement of 5.7, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. There were no reports of serious injuries in Salt Lake City, police said, but Rocky Mountain Power, a major provider in the region, said that about 55,000 customers in the area lost power.
For miles around Utah’s capital, china rattled in cabinets, pictures plummeted off walls and power snapped out. At the Salt Lake Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the tremors were so intense that the trumpet of the angel Moroni fell from the temple’s highest point. Many residents, staying indoors because of measures to stem the coronavirus outbreak, suddenly faced a new hazard — anything that might fall on them in their homes.
“Plan to strap furniture to the walls,” state emergency officials quickly advised.
“I know the last thing we need right now is an earthquake, but here we are,” Mayor Erin Mendenhall of Salt Lake City said on Twitter.
The city’s airport temporarily stopped flights, and the school district said it could not provide meals or food boxes Wednesday as planned to help students during the coronavirus outbreak.
Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah, urging people to stay home unless they work in public safety, said on Twitter that the earthquake was “felt across much of the state.” In the two hours after the earthquake, the U.S. Geological Survey said, 18 aftershocks rippled through the area, the largest a 4.6-magnitude earthquake.
The region lies near the Wasatch fault system, but earthquakes of this size are somewhat rare, said Don Blakeman, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
“The larger the quake, the less frequently they occur, so this is uncommon, but not unheard-of,” Blakeman said.
He said the last time an earthquake of similar magnitude hit the Salt Lake City area was in 1962, when a 5.0-magnitude earthquake struck. Utah’s Emergency Management agency compared Wednesday’s earthquake to one of similar strength in 1992, which struck near St. George in the state’s south.