A 5.7 magnitude earthquake shakes Utah, knocking out power to thousands

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A 5.7 magnitude earthquake shook Utah’s Salt Lake City area Wednesday morning, knocking out power to tens of thousands and prompting the governor to urge people to stay away from the capital’s downtown.

The quake was centered about 10 miles west of Salt Lake City and very near the city of Magna, starting at 7:09 a.m. MT, the US Geological Survey said.

The quake comes as Utah residents, like people across the world, are adjusting to changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic, including canceling schools and limiting mass gatherings.

“I know the last thing we need right now is an earthquake, but here we are, and it sounds like aftershocks are likely,” Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said on Twitter.

“The city is assessing the situation now and I’ll circle back with an update when I have it. Be safe,” Mendenhall said.

This is the state’s most powerful quake since 1992, when a magnitude 5.9 temblor struck the St. George area, Utah’s Division of Emergency Management said.

“Please stay away from the downtown area while crews assess damage,” Gov. Gary Herbert said on Twitter. “Unless you work in public safety, or are an essential employee, remain at home or telework.”

More than 47,000 customers in the area were without power after the quake, Rocky Mountain Power’s website reported.

Salt Lake International Airport was under a ground stop after the quake, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

At least six aftershocks had been recorded within 20 minutes of the main quake, according to the USGS.

Generally, in Utah, earthquakes greater than magnitude 5 happen once every 10 years, and quakes greater than magnitude 6 happen once every 50 years, the USGS says.

That statement takes into account instrumentation records dating back to 1962, and historical records dating back to the 1850s, the USGS says.

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