4.7 magnitude earthquake jolts Oklahoma, nearby states

By Molly Hennessey-Fiske/Los Angeles Times (MCT)

A 4.7 magnitude earthquake, the third-largest recorded temblor in Oklahoma history, rattled the central part of the state early Saturday and was felt as far as Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Texas.

“We have reports of it being felt very widely, as far south as Plano, Texas, and up into Fort Leavenworth, Kansas,” said Paul Caruso, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo.

The quake was reported at 2:12 a.m. with an epicenter about six miles north of Prague, Okla., about 50 miles east of Oklahoma City, according to the USGS. The quake size ranked behind a temblor that shook Noble, Okla., on Oct. 13, 2010, and a 5.5 quake reported in El Reno, Okla., about 30 miles west of the capital, on April 9, 1952.

Saturday’s quake was followed by nine aftershocks in the same area, Caruso said.

The earthquake originated on a sideway-moving “strike slip” fault similar to the San Andreas Fault. The Oklahoma fault is known as the Wilzetta Fault, also the Seminole uplift, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

No injuries or major damages were reported, just minor damage from items falling off walls, according to the Lincoln County sheriff’s office which patrols areas surrounding the epicenter.

Rhonda Cruz, a Prague Police department dispatcher who moved to the city last year from Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, said residents and buildings in the rural town are unprepared for such a big quake. Saturday morning, she said she could feel the buildings sway and immediately recognized what was happening.

“You know when big trucks go by? That’s what it felt like,” she said. “You just feel it, and you know.”

In the aftermath of another rare quake_the 5.8-magnitude temblor that struck the East Coast in August_the Virginia county at the epicenter has been given federal disaster aid to help with widespread damages to more than 1,000 homes and businesses.

“Many of our fellow Virginians who call Louisa home are hurting, and this is critically needed aid during a very trying time,” Republican Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said in a statement. “The once-in-one-hundred-year earthquake that struck Virginia in August caused significant damage that was not covered by homeowners insurance.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s earlier denial of the state’s request had set off political aftershocks, with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., pondering: “If damage from a once-in-a-generation, 5.8-magnitude earthquake does not qualify for federal disaster relief, then I don’t know what does.”