A 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook Salt Lake City, Utah, early Wednesday morning, knocking out power to tens of thousands of households and businesses, shuttering the area's airport, and disrupting some government efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
The quake struck about 4 miles northeast of Magna, Utah, which is 15 miles west of Salt Lake City, just after 7 a.m. local time. At least 20 aftershocks followed, ranging from magnitude 2.5 to 3.9, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
— Utah Division of Emergency Management (Utah DEM) (@UtahEmergency) March 18, 2020
The state's Department of Emergency Management said aftershocks were likely to continue throughout the day. The initial quake, the state's largest since 1992, was felt from Logan to Riverton, which are about 100 miles apart.
"The strongest shaking seems to have been felt around Salt Lake County. The power has been knocked out in some areas," the department said.
Rocky Mountain Power said about 55,000 customers lost power, and that it was working to "restore power as soon as possible."
The Salt Lake City School District said Wednesday morning that due to the earthquake it cannot provide meals, food boxes and computers it has been supplying to families while schools are shuttered due to the coronavirus outbreak. "We hope to be able to resume these programs tomorrow," the district tweeted.
— Taylor (@slc_taylor) March 18, 2020
Following the quake, the Salt Lake City International Airport shut down. "The FAA tower, terminals and concourses have been evacuated," said a tweet from the airport. "The road to the airport has been opened, so that passengers can be picked-up."
All trains on the Salt Lake Valley's light rail system, TRAX, also came to a halt and pulled into the nearest station, according to the state's transit authority.
The Utah Department of Transportation said crews were checking roads for any damage. "So far there doesn't appear to be any, but we're checking everything out, specifically our bridges," the agency said in a tweet.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhal pointed out that the quake's timing was especially bad in light of disruptions already caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
"I know the last thing we need right now is an earthquake, but here we are," she wrote in a tweet. "The City is assessing the situation now and I’ll circle back with an update when I have it. Be safe."