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Earthquake closes Smithsonian museums; damages Washington National Cathedral
A spire atop the Washington National Cathedral shows damage following an earthquake along the eastern United States, August 23, 2011. Three of the four spires at the top of the cathedral were damaged in the largest earthquake to hit the area for over 100 years. REUTERS/Jason Reed.
WASHINGTON (AP).- All of the Smithsonian Institution museums on the National Mall have been closed in the wake of an earthquake centered in Virginia that shook the nation's capital.

Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough tells The Associated Press that staffers are examining the buildings for damage, and no injuries were reported.

Clough, who is an earthquake engineer, says a main concern is the Smithsonian Castle, the red, gothic-style building that was constructed in 1857.

He says he was meeting with his staff when they felt the floor move.

Clough says there are some minor cracks and broken glass in the castle. There are also reports of damage at two Smithsonian facilities in suburban Maryland that do not receive visitors.

The National Zoo is also closed.

The National Park Service says most of the monuments and memorials on the National Mall have reopened after being closed following the East Coast earthquake.

The park service says all monuments and memorials were initially evacuated and closed, including the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial.

But the King memorial and several others that don't include large buildings were reopened within an hour of the 5.8-magnitude earthquake, which struck at 1:51 p.m. Visitors continued streaming through the King memorial Tuesday afternoon.

The Lincoln and Jefferson memorials were closed for several hours but reopened Tuesday evening. The Washington Monument was found to be structurally sound but it's not clear when it will reopen. The Old Post Office tower will reopen Wednesday morning.

Here is a summary of how Washington landmarks were affected by Tuesday's earthquake:

— Washington National Cathedral: Damage to three of the four pinnacles atop the main tower, and visible cracks in the church's structure. Building remains closed to visitors.

— Washington Monument: Evacuated, closed. Preliminary inspection finds it structurally sound. Grounds reopened but monument remains closed.

— U.S. Capitol: Evacuated, closed, reopened after inspection by structural engineers. House and Senate office buildings now accessible.

— White House, Old Executive Office Building, Treasury building: Nonessential employees evacuated; reopened around 4 p.m. No damage.

— Lincoln Memorial: Evacuated, closed, reopened after several hours. No damage.

— Jefferson Memorial: Evacuated, closed, reopened after several hours. No damage.

— Old Post Office tower: Evacuated, closed, no damage. Reopening Wednesday.

— Smithsonian museums: Closed Tuesday, being inspected for damage. Minor cracks, broken glass reported at 1857 Smithsonian Castle.

— MLK Memorial: Briefly closed, now open. No damage.


Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.






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