Quake shakes Seattle, causes only minor damage

Fans file out of stadium

May 3, 1996
Web posted at: 7:30 a.m. EDT

SEATTLE, Washington (CNN) -- On Friday, the Seattle Mariners and the Cleveland Indians will finish what they started Thursday night -- playing the last innings of a baseball game halted when an earthquake struck the Pacific Northwest. The moderate quake rocked Washington state and northern Oregon, but caused no major damage or injuries.

The quake, a magnitude 5.3 on the Richter scale, struck at 9:04 p.m. PDT, and was centered about 20 miles northeast of Seattle near Duvall, Washington. The 20-30 second tremor was felt as far north as Vancouver, British Columbia and as far south as Portland, Oregon.

Anne Levinson, Seattle's Deputy Mayor, arrived at the city's Emergency Operations Center to oversee damage estimates, but Levinson said there was little to report.

"We have sent out bridge and building inspectors and so far there are no reports of any structural damage," she said.

Reports of minor damage came primarily from individual homeowners.

"It seems like the reports of damage are within individual homes where dishes have broken, fallen off the shelves and things like that," said King County Executive Gary Locke.

Map of washington

Some 16,000 homes were without electricity after some transformers shut down, but Snohomish County Public Utilities spokesman Andy Muntz said the power was restored by midnight.

School buildings in the area look "A-OK," according to Seattle public schools spokeswoman Dorothy Dubia, and will be open as usual on Friday.

But the quake was strong enough to force officials to postpone the Major League Baseball game between the hometown Mariners and the Cleveland Indians. With Cleveland leading 6- 3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the earthquake struck.

"It was a tremendous, tremendous shock," said Dave Niehaus, a radio announcer broadcasting the game. "The desk was rolling back and forth."

The game was delayed for 10 minutes before officials made the decision to postpone the final innings of the game until Friday afternoon, despite fans remaining in the stands chanting "Let's play ball."

Bill Steele, coordinator of the University of Washington Seismology Lab, described the quake as a "a crustal shallow quake in the foothills of the Cascade Mountain Range, luckily it wasn't near any active volcanoes."

The last crustal earthquake in the area occurred in January 1995 with a magnitude of 5.0. The strongest quakes in the area occurred in 1949 (7.1 magnitude) and 1965 (6.5 magnitude). Six people died in the 1965 earthquake, which struck in the early morning rush hour.

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