WEST SALEM, Ill. (AP) — A 5.4 magnitude earthquake that appeared to rival the strongest recorded in the region rocked people up to 450 miles away early Friday, surprising residents unaccustomed to such a powerful Midwest temblor.
No serious damage was immediately evident in Henderson, where the shaking lasted 30 seconds or so.
Kentucky State Police dispatcher Natalie Alsip at the post in Henderson said telephone calls poured in to the post following the quake and one man reported cracked plaster at his home.
Methodist Hospital reported that all patients, staff, and facilities were unharmed following this morning’s earthquake.
A dispatcher at the KSP post in Mayfield said there were many phone calls from western Kentucky locations, but no indication of injury or serious damage.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet inspectors will check some bridge structures "as a precaution," but don't expect to find damage, according to spokesman Keith Todd.
A quake of Friday's magnitude "would not be expected to cause damage to well-engineered structures," Todd said in a media advisory.
They inspected the U.S. 41-North twin bridges, the U.S. 60 bridge over the Green River at Spottsville, the Shawneetown Bridge and the bridge in downtown Owensboro, he said.
The quake just before 4:37 a.m. was centered six miles from West Salem, Ill., and 45 miles from Evansville. It was felt in such distant cities as Chicago, Cincinnati, Louisville, Milwaukee, and Des Moines, Iowa, 450 miles northwest of the epicenter, but there were no early reports of injuries or significant damage.
“It shook our house where it woke me up,” said David Behm of Philo, 10 miles south of Champaign. “Windows were rattling, and you could hear it. The house was shaking inches. For people in central Illinois, this is a big deal. It’s not like California.”
Bonnie Lucas, a morning co-host at WHO-AM in Des Moines, said she was sitting in her office when she felt her chair move. She grabbed her desk, and then heard the ceiling panels start to creak. The shaking lasted about 5 seconds, she said.
The quake shook skyscrapers in Chicago’s Loop, 240 miles north of the epicenter, and in downtown Indianapolis, about 160 miles northeast of it.
Irvetta McMurtry of Cincinnati said she felt the rattling for up to 20 seconds.
“All of a sudden, I was awakened by this rumbling shaking,” said McMurtry, 43. “My bed is an older wood frame bed, so the bed started to creak and shake, and it was almost like somebody was taking my mattress and moving it back and forth.”
Lucas Griswold, a dispatcher in West Salem, said the Edwards County sheriff’s department received reports of minor damage and no injuries.
“Oh, yeah, I felt it. It was interesting,” Griswold said. “A lot of shaking.”
Indiana State Police spokesman Sgt. Todd Ringle in Evansville said there were no immediate reports of damage.
The quake occurred in the Illinois basin-Ozark dome region that covers parts of Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas and stretches from Indianapolis and St. Louis to Memphis, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The organization’s Web site said earthquakes occur irregularly in the area, and that the largest historical earthquake in the region — also a magnitude 5.4 — caused damage in southern Illinois in 1968.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers these tips of what to do after an earthquake:
* Expect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake.
* Listen to a battery-operated radio or television. Listen for the latest emergency information.
* Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
* Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.
* Stay away from damaged areas. Stay away unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organizations. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
* Be aware of possible tsunamis if you live in coastal areas. These are also known as seismic sea waves (mistakenly called "tidal waves"). When local authorities issue a tsunami warning, assume that a series of dangerous waves is on the way. Stay away from the beach.
* Help injured or trapped persons. Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance such as infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
* Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.
* Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage. Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.
* Inspect utilities:
*Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
*Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
*Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.