Rare Earthquake Shakes Gulf of Mexico

SARASOTA -

The USGS says the earthquake was centered about 250 miles off the coast of Sarasota. There, 911 operators felt their high-rise shaking and then started getting calls from nervous residents. Sarasota County's emergency management chief, Ed McCrane, says alerts were sent to all law enforcement and lifeguards were told to monitor wave activity.

McCRANE: It's a very unusual event for us based on folks that have lived here for many years, but the first thing I thought of was if they felt it in the buildings there's always the possibility of a higher wave activity, or even a tsunami.

Experts said the quake was not strong enough to cause a tsunami, but it was the largest and most widely felt of more than a dozen earthquakes recorded in the eastern Gulf in the last 30 years. The USGS received almost 4,000 reports from people as far away as North Carolina in just a few hours.

The epicenter is an unusual location for earthquake activity;' it was not centered on a known fault line. But scientists recorded a magnitude 5.2 quake in the same place last February.

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