Earthquake felt across southern Massachusetts, Rhode Island

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Boston: The strongest earthquake to hit southern New England in decades rattled homes and nerves Sunday morning, but didn't cause any significant damage, authorities said.

The 3.6 magnitude earthquake centred off the coast of New Bedford, Massachusetts, in Buzzards Bay struck just after 9am, according to the US Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Centre.

People felt the quake in Boston, Massachusetts.Credit:iStock

The earthquake hit at a depth of a little more than 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) and was felt across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and into Connecticut and Long Island, New York.

It was the strongest earthquake in the area since a magnitude 3.5 temblor hit in March 1976, said Paul Caruso, a USGS geophysicist.

About 14,000 people went to the agency's website to report the earthquake, including people from Easthampton, Massachusetts, and Hartford, Connecticut, both about 160 kilometres away, and several from more than 80 kilometres away in Boston, he said.

That's not unusual in New England.

“It's common for them to be felt very far away because the rock here is old and continuous and transmits the energy a long way," Caruso said.

Ali Kenner Brodsky, who lives in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, not far from the epicentre, was sitting in her kitchen talking with her son, when it hit.

“It was a rumbling. It sounded like something exploded. It rumbled. The whole house shook," she said.

She said it lasted around 10 to 15 seconds. “In that moment, it feels like it’s going on forever.”

Her husband, Sam, ran to the basement because he thought the boiler blew up.

Magnitude 3.6 earthquakes rarely cause major damage, Caruso said.

Chris Besse, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said it had not received any reports of injuries or significant damage.

Later Sunday, Besse in an email said there were reports of some structural damage to buildings in New Bedford, and urged anyone who felt the earthquake to check for such damage.

The Red Cross tweeted that it was helping 21 people, including children, who had been displaced from their New Bedford homes.

There were other reports of minor damage.

Police in Fall River tweeted that they received numerous phone calls about the quake, including reports of items falling off of shelves, and street signs getting uprooted.

AP

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