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5.7-magnitude earthquake shakes Salt Lake County, Utah

Earthquake rattles Salt Lake City area

A 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck near Magna, Utah, Wednesday morning, according to the United States Geological Survey. The temblor knocked out power for tens of thousands and operations at Salt Lake City International Airport came to a halt.

It is the largest earthquake to hit the state since a 5.9 magnitude quake struck southern Utah in 1992, according to Utah Emergency Management.The quake  was felt across Salt Lake County and in Ogden and as far away as Wyoming, CBS affiliate KUTV reports

Earthquake Utah
Construction workers looks at the rubble from a building after an earthquake Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in Salt Lake City.   Rick Bowmer / AP

Utah Governor Gary Herbert asked people on Twitter to stay away from Salt Lake City's downtown area "while crews assess damage," unless they work in public safety, or are an essential employee.

According to the governor, the earthquake damaged both the state's department of health lab and its coronavirus hotline. 

"The (Utah Department of Health) state lab is assessing damage and currently down. The poison control center has been evacuated and the (Utah Coronavirus) hotline is down," Herbert tweeted Wednesday. Utah has 51 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins. 

No deaths or injuries have been reported but KUTV aired footage showing damage in downtown Salt Lake City early Wednesday.

Rocky Mountain Power tweeted around 8 a.m. local time that it is aware of a "large scale power outage in the Salt Lake Valley Area impacting approximately 55,000 customers" due to the earthquake. 

"We currently are assessing damages and will restore power as soon as possible," the utility said. 

Salt Lake City International Airport said in a tweet the road to the airport was closed following the quake. "Please do not come out to the airport," it tweeted.

The Federal Aviation Association released a statement saying it had evacuated the airport's control tower, and had issued a "ground stop" order to divert any inbound air traffic to other airports. 

Airport authority is currently conducting a "runway inspection," according to the FAA. 

"The Salt Lake City International Airport is currently not operational. The FAA tower has been evacuated. Please do not come to the airport, the airport said in a statement

Utah Emergency Management said it is "very likely" that people in Utah would feel aftershocks throughout the day. At least 11 aftershocks, coming about two to four minutes apart, had been felt by 8 a.m. local time in the Salt Lake City area. 

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, since the initial earthquake there have been eight magnitude three or higher earthquakes, which are strong enough to be felt. The USGS aftershock forecast predicts that over the next week "there is a 6% chance of one or more aftershocks that are larger than magnitude 5.7." A series of smaller aftershocks, magnitude 3 or higher, are also likely. 

"The number of aftershocks will drop off over time, but a large aftershock can increase the numbers again, temporarily," according to USGS.

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