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North Carolina is rocked by 5.1 magnitude earthquake – the most powerful in the state for 104 years

A 5.1 magnitude earthquake struck North Carolina on Sunday morning, the largest to hit the state in more than a century.

The quake hit at 8.07am around 100 miles north of Charlotte near to the town of Sparta, which is situated along North Carolina’s border with Virginia.

The force of the quake was said to be felt as far away as South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia, according to the US Geological Survey. The department said it received numerous report of the quake in Atlanta, 300 miles away from the epicenter.

‘It felt like a big locomotive going by and a big wave coming underneath the bed,’ said Sparta Mayor Wes Brinegar, who said he was woken up by the quake. ‘A big wave coming to lift you.’

According to the USGS, this is the largest earthquake to hit the state in 104 years, when a 5.2 magnitude quake rumbled near Skyland in 1916. 

No injuries have so far been reported in Sparta or elsewhere as a result of the tremor. However, some minor damage was reported in the town of 1,800 people.  

‘Cracked foundation, and stuff falling off shelves in houses,’ Brinegar said. ‘I’ve lived here my whole life and have never felt anything like that.’ 

Town Councilman Cole Edwards told CNN how he too was shaken awake by the quake. He said his home sustained no damage, though it broke some dishes and knocked pictures off the wall, he said. 

Brinegar said a lot of people in the town were ‘scared’ this morning. ‘This was the most intense one we’ve ever had,’ the mayor continued.

Alleghany County had 1,112 customers without power as of 9:45am, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. 

As of 10:00am ET, approximately 45,000 people reported feeling the quake.

More aftershocks could continue near the epicenter of the main shock throughout the week.

‘When there are more earthquakes, the chance of a large earthquake is greater which means that the chance of damage is greater,’ the U.S. Geological Survey said. 

‘According to our forecast, over the next 1 Week there is a 4 percent chance of one or more aftershocks that are larger than magnitude 5.1. It is likely that there will be smaller earthquakes over the next 1 Week, with … magnitude 3 or higher aftershocks’

Sunday’s earthquake thundered at a depth of around 5.7 miles, which the USGS considers to be a shallow quake.

Quakes shallower than 43 miles tend to be more destructive than deeper ones, the USGS says. 

What experts deem ‘moderately damaging’ earthquakes hit inland Carolina every few decades, with smaller quakes coming every one or two years.

According to the USGS, earthquakes that hit in the central and eastern areas of the US ‘are typically felt over a much broader region.’

In addition to people in the Carolinas and Georgia, the tremor was also felt in Nashville, Tennessee.

‘East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area as much as ten times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the West Coast,’ the USGS said

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