Earth­quake hits Utah, rat­tling frayed nerves

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - Nation&world -

SALT LAKE CITY — A mod­er­ate earth­quake Wed­nes­day near Salt Lake City shut down a ma­jor air traf­fic hub, dam­aged a spire atop a tem­ple and fright­ened mil­lions of peo­ple al­ready on edge from the coro­n­avirus pan­demic. There were no re­ports of in­juries.

The 5.7-mag­ni­tude quake just af­ter 7 a.m. dam­aged the spire and statue atop the iconic

Salt Lake Tem­ple. Else­where, bricks were show­ered onto side­walks and a chem­i­cal plume was re­leased out­side the city.

The epi­cen­ter was just south­west of Salt Lake City, be­tween the air­port and Great Salt Lake. It was felt by about 2.8 mil­lion peo­ple who were al­ready at home to pre­vent the spread of the coro­n­avirus. Many ran out­side in panic amid the shak­ing that lasted as long as 15 sec­onds.

“This is ex­tremely bad tim­ing, be­cause we al­ready have the coro­n­avirus is­sue go­ing on right now caus­ing a lot of anx­i­ety,” said Gov. Gary Her­bert, R-Utah.

Planes were di­verted from Salt Lake City In­ter­na­tional Air­port and the con­trol tower and con­courses were evac­u­ated. Far fewer peo­ple than nor­mal were in the air­port, due to the coro­n­avirus pre­cau­tions.

No run­way prob­lems were found and most of the dam­age in the ter­mi­nal ap­peared to be caused by a bro­ken wa­ter line, Wy­att said. Cargo and non­com­mer­cial flights re­sumed hours later, but com­mer­cial flights were de­layed into the af­ter­noon.

Peo­ple re­ported feel­ing

• • •

THURS­DAY, MARCH 19, 2020 the quake in the neigh­bor­ing states of Colorado, Idaho, Wy­oming and Ne­vada.

The quake shut down light-rail ser­vice for Salt Lake City and its sub­urbs. The chem­i­cal plume was re­leased at the Ken­necott cop­per mine west of the city and moved to­ward the Great Salt Lake, said Clint Mecham, Salt Lake County’s emer­gency man­ager.

Of­fi­cials have not iden­ti­fied the chem­i­cals in­volved, but Mecham said it was not ex­pected to af­fect peo­ple, since it was mov­ing away from pop­u­lated ar­eas.

Res­i­dents re­ported shak­ing across a 100-mile area, with the heav­i­est im­pact in Salt Lake County, of­fi­cials said.

Paramedics and fire crews re­spond­ing to emer­gency calls asked peo­ple to first dis­close if they had symp­toms of coro­n­avirus. If they did, the crews donned masks, gowns and gloves be­fore at­tend­ing to them.

Some virus test­ing was de­layed by the earth­quake and the state’s coro­n­avirus hot­line was tem­po­rar­ily shut down while dam­age as­sess­ments were con­ducted.

Dam­age was re­ported to roads and bridges, and nat­u­ral gas leaks were re­ported at state gov­ern­ment build­ings, said Utah Pub­lic Safety Com­mis­sioner Jess An­der­son.

Near the epi­cen­ter of the quake in the small town of Magna, 14 build­ings were dam­aged and 100 peo­ple were evac­u­ated, Uni­fied Fire spokesman Matthew McFarland said.

At Salt Lake Tem­ple, the trum­pet held by the An­gel Moroni fell from the statue at the top of the tem­ple and stones were dis­placed from the spire.

The tem­ple is un­der­go­ing ren­o­va­tions and a seis­mic up­grade. Con­struc­tion crews were sent home while the dam­age was as­sessed, church spokesman Daniel Woodruff said in a state­ment.

About 73,000 homes and busi­nesses lost elec­tric­ity in the Salt Lake

City area, but power was quickly be­ing re­stored in some ar­eas, Rocky Moun­tain Power said.

It was the largest earth­quake to hit Utah since a 5.9-mag­ni­tude quake shook the south­ern part of the state in 1992, ac­cord­ing to Utah Emer­gency Man­age­ment.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Con­struc­tion work­ers in Salt Lake City looked at the rub­ble from a build­ing af­ter Wed­nes­day’s 5.7-mag­ni­tude earth­quake.

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