5.7-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Utah, Leaving At Least 45K People Without Power

A 5.7-magnitude earthquake has struck just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, leaving tens of thousands of people without power, CNN reports.

The earthquake, which couldn’t have come at a worse time for the metropolitan area of about 1 million people, struck as the city, like so many other American cities, is trying valiantly to stem the tide of the spreading coronavirus.

At 7:09 a.m. local time (9:09 a.m. Eastern time) Wednesday, the quake struck about 10 miles from the city center, near the town of Magna.

As of this writing, there are no reports of injuries or fatalities. However, the disruption to the city will severely hamper its efforts to contain the coronavirus.

“I know the last thing we need right now is an earthquake, but here we are, and it sounds like aftershocks are likely,” Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said.

Indeed, aftershocks have already occurred. A 3.7-magnitude aftershock hit about 7:15 a.m., according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and a 3.5-magnitude aftershock hit not long after that. As of 7:30 a.m. local time, at least 10 aftershocks had hit, ranging in magnitude from 2.5 to 3.9, according to the USGS.

The state’s coronavirus hotline, which residents could call to request tests and seek information, went down, likely due to the power disruption from the earthquake. The building that houses the state’s public health laboratory is closed as it’s assessed for damage. That is bringing with it a screeching halt to the state’s anti-coronavirus efforts, even as the nation is in the midst of the deadly pandemic.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of residents, many of whom are self-isolating at home with not much else to do, will be without power — and thus the ability to remotely do their jobs, or watch TV, or even cook a meal — until further notice.

Across the region, crews are on the ground assessing the damage.

As the city’s KSL-TV reports, the Mormon Temple, a major tourist attraction as well as a place of great spiritual significance for the state’s Mormon population, was slightly damaged, even as it was undergoing renovations to protect it against earthquakes. The building’s famed gold statue of the angel Moroni lost its trumpet.

Near Magna, the earthquake’s epicenter, some homes were moderately damaged.

Meanwhile, Salt Lake City’s International Airport is closed to inbound air traffic as crews check the runways for damage.

This is the region’s worst earthquake since 1992, when a 5.8-magnitude quake struck near the city of St. George.

This is a developing story. More information about the Salt Lake City earthquake will be provided as it becomes available.