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Earthquake rattles eastern Kentucky

USGS

An earthquake map from the USGS shows Saturday's 4.3-magnitude quake.

Updated at 5:40 p.m. ET: A 4.3-magnitude earthquake struck eight miles west of Whitesburg, Ky., early Saturday afternoon, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

The epicenter of the shallow, light earthquake was 0.7 miles deep under the Appalachian Mountains town of Blackey, near the Virginia border, the agency said.

There were no immediate reports of damage in the eastern Kentucky area.


The tremor was felt from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Atlanta, Ga., USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso in Denver told NBC News.

"Normally, we don't expect major damage with this kind of intensity," but it's "not out of the question" that there could be some -- usually, major damage is expected when magnitude is 5.5 or higher, Caruso said.

Whitesburg police and fire officials told NBC News late Saturday afternoon that after making round they had no visible damage, only people calling to report that they "felt jolts."

Earlier, the Letcher County Sheriff's office said it was still assessing the quake but had no reports of damage or deaths. 

Nick Howell, at Parkway Inn Hotel in Whitesburg told NBC News he felt light jolts but nothing serious. There was no visible damage outside, he said. 

Most Kentucky temblors historically have occurred in the western portion of the state, near the New Madrid seismic zone, the USGS says.

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This story includes reporting by NBC's Michelle Acevedo, Ali Fateh, Brittany Tom and Jim Gold.

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