A magnitude 5.7 earthquake just slammed Utah, the state's largest in nearly 30 years

A map showing the area of impact (the orange and yellow regions were hit hardest).
(Image credit: USGS)

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck northern Utah at 7:09 a.m. local time today, causing considerable damage in and around the towns of Magna and Salt Lake City, according to the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS). The quake is the largest temblor the state has felt since a magnitude 5.9 quake struck the city of St. George, in southwestern Utah, in 1992.

No serious injuries have been reported, however there is widespread damage in the area, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. The quake caused nearly 50,000 homes and businesses to lose power and caused damage that forced the closure of Salt Lake City International Airport. Numerous buildings in downtown Salt Lake shed bricks, and the golden statue of the angel Moroni situated atop the Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lost its trumpet, the Tribune reported.

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A public safety alert has advised citizens to shelter in place, if possible.

The quake appears to be the result of normal movement on the Wasatch fault system, a region of regular seismic activity that stretches for about 240 miles (390 kilometers) north-south along Utah's Wasatch mountains, the USGS said. Keith Koper, director of the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, told FOX 13 that quakes like this hit the state roughly once every 10 years. Dozens of aftershocks have already followed, most of them between magnitude 2.5 and 3.5, with hundreds more likely to come in the next few weeks.

The quake somewhat complicated the state's response to the new coronavirus pandemic, forcing officials to temporarily shut down the coronavirus hotline while state buildings were evacuated, according to the health department.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 41 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Utah.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Brandon Specktor

Brandon is the space/physics editor at Live Science. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Reader's Digest, CBS.com, the Richard Dawkins Foundation website and other outlets. He holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from the University of Arizona, with minors in journalism and media arts. He enjoys writing most about space, geoscience and the mysteries of the universe.