In Washington, New York and along much of the East Coast, shaking ground and swaying buildings sent anxious people running for exits, pouring into streets or diving under desks. For many, their first thoughts turned to terrorism, not nature.
The earthquake on Tuesday afternoon and centered in Virginia was felt as far south as South Carolina and north to Massachusetts, where a vacationing President Barack Obama was about to start a round of golf on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. Parts of the Pentagon, the White House, the Capitol and federal agencies were evacuated.
Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said he was walking up Capitol Hill when the earthquake hit. Coons said he was concerned "that it was something other than an earthquake."