Rare magnitude 4.8 earthquake strikes near New York City

No major damage reported following one of the largest earthquakes on the east coast in the last century

A 4.8-magnitude earthquake struck near New York City on Friday morning, the US Geological Survey said, shaking buildings up and down the east coast and surprising residents in an area that rarely experiences notable seismic activity.

The earthquake’s epicentre was in Tewksbury in central New Jersey, about 64km west of New York City. It occurred just after 10.20am local time at a depth of 4.7km, the US Geological Survey said.

No major damage was reported, but New York governor Kathy Hochul warned of the possibility of aftershocks at a news conference. Engineering teams were inspecting roads and bridges. “This is one of the largest earthquakes on the east coast in the last century,” she said.

New York City mayor Eric Adams said at a news conference that no injuries had been reported but urged city residents to take cover under furniture, in a doorway or next to an interior wall if they feel any aftershocks.


“New Yorkers should go about their normal day,” he said.

People from Baltimore to Boston reported feeling rumbling and shaking, with some running outside to try to detect the source.

Charita Walcott (38), a resident in the Bronx borough of New York, said the quake felt “like a violent rumble that lasted about 30 seconds or so.”

“It was kind of like being in a drum circle, that vibration,” she said.

James Pittinger, mayor of Lebanon, New Jersey, near the quake’s epicentre, said there were no reports of injuries or significant damage but that people were unnerved. “I was sitting in my home office when things started to fall off the walls and shelves. It was a crazy experience.”

President Joe Biden spoke with New Jersey governor Phil Murphy about the earthquake, and the administration will provide assistance if needed, the White House said in a statement.

At the United Nations in midtown Manhattan, the Save the Children chief executive Janti Soeripto abruptly stopped addressing the Security Council on the Israel-Gaza conflict as cameras began shuddering. “You’re making the ground shake,” Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour quipped.

Flights were held at area airports in the aftermath of the earthquake but had resumed by 12:30pm local time, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Residual delays were expected.

Friday’s tremor was the largest in New York since the 2011 5.8-magnitude earthquake in Virginia that prompted evacuations of City Hall and other buildings and caused damage in Washington.

Earthquake magnitudes are measured on a logarithmic scale, which means the amount of energy released by a quake increases by more than 30 times for each whole number.

The 1989 earthquake that disrupted baseball’s World Series and rocked San Francisco was measured at a 6.9 magnitude, which would have made it more than 1,000 times more powerful than Friday’s quake.

Earthquakes in the eastern US are felt across a far broader area because the bedrock is much older and harder, transferring seismic energy more easily, according to the US Geological Survey. The rocks in the western US are younger and contain more faults that absorb earthquake energy. – Reuters