(Thursday, March 1, 10am)
At 10:54 yesterday, an earthquake rattled Seattle, sending bricks tumbling to the sidewalk and shattering windows throughout the downtown area. The quake registered 6.8 on the Richter scale, and was centered just north of Olympia. Area hospitals report minor injuries and the sheriff's office reports one fatality: a Burien man suffered a heart attack during the quake.
King County Executive Ron Sims declared a state of emergency for King County and advised citizens to call 911 only in cases of extreme emergency. Several roads were closed including the 99 viaduct along the waterfront.
The historic Pioneer Square area in downtown Seattle was especially hard hit, just a night after Mardi Gras riots led to widescale vandalism. Dazed downtown workers assessing the damage shortly after the quake mused about whether the many broken windows were caused by drunken rioters or the quake.
At Viet Mg Restaurant on SW 4th and Washington, a passerby asked owners who were cleaning up broken glass whether the window had been shattered the night before or during the quake. "Its from the earthquake," said the despondent owners.
City Hall and the historic Smith Tower were evacuated; workers were sent home while damage was assessed. Municipal Court sessions were canceled for the day. Many downtown employees were either told not to return to their buildings or opted to leave, and city streets and highways leading out of the city were clogged during the lunchtime exodus.
Parts of the upper fa硤e of the Fenix night club on 2nd Ave. and Jackson came crashing to the street, breaking the windshields of several parked cars and knocking over parking meters. Passersby marveled at the damage amid the squeals of ambulances and fire trucks. Brick and stone also rained down on the street from the Seneca Building at 2nd Ave. and Seneca. Two firemen on the scene said reports theyd heard placed the most serious destruction in Pioneer Square, on 1st and 2nd Avenues, though reports of broken glass and cracked buildings came in from all parts of the city.
Power outages were also blamed on the quake. Seattle City Light estimates that 15,000 customers in the south end of the city lost service.
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What happenedand what might happen next by Roger Downey
Pacific Northwest earthquake information from the Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network
Information on recent earthquakes in this area
Photos 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Quake video from Groovetech.com.
King County Information
Updated Road Closures
Damage Report Hotline