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A moderate earthquake centered in Virginia has rattled Philadelphia, the surrounding Pennsylvania suburbs and South Jersey, triggering alarm and sparking evacuations but causing no major damage.

Aftershocks are expected, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Tall buildings from Center City, to Wilmington and Atlantic City were evacuated, including Philadelphia City Hall.

Phone circuits were jammed after the ground shook around 1:55 p.m. and police urged residents not to call 911 except in an actual emergency. Anyone smelling fumes should call 311 or the Philadelphia Gas Works.

There are no immediate reports of any serious injuries.

Reports of damage were minor.

The tremor cracked a window at the Blue Cross Building at 19th and Market Streets. In Cherry Hill, an official said a “structural crack” was visible on the 13-story Towers of Windsor apartment complex.

A gas leak was reported on Craig Drive in Deptford, prompting the evacuation of some residents.

The quake triggered an early evening rush hour and police mobilized for an exodus by commuters from Center City.

The Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse at 6th and Market Streets and city’s Criminal Justice Center closed ahead of schedule.

Comcast, whose glass tower is the city’s tallest skyscraper, reported no damage to the building but sent its workers home early as a precaution.

Just before 3 p.m., Mayor Nutter reported that all city buildings appeared safe and ordered city workers back to their work locations.

Source: http://www.philly.com

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