Powerful earthquake in U.S. People hurt, military bases intact

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 shook Seattle and western Washington state for 45 seconds on Wednesday - enough time to cause at least $1 billion in damage and send thousands of people fleeing homes, schools and offices. Seattle officials said about 25 people were being treated in local hospitals for injuries and that four were in serious condition after being crushed by debris. In addition, hospitals in Olympia were treating 35 people, according to Reuters. It was the region's first big quake since a 6.5 tremor rocked the area on April 29, 1965. A 7.1-magnitude quake in 1949 killed eight people. The quake halted a speech by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, cracked the dome of the state Capitol in Olympia, sent bricks tumbling from historic buildings in Pioneer Square, the nation's first skid row, trapped people at the top of Seattle's landmark World's Fair Space Needle, triggered landslides that plugged the river that delivers the city's water and led to the temporary closure of the Seattle-Tacoma airport. The quake also cracked the famous Boeing field where the aerospace giant tests its planes, cut power to 200,000 in the western part of the state, damaged windows at the corporate campus of software giant Microsoft Corp. and jolted the headquarters of coffee giant Starbucks. According to a Pentagon spokesman, military bases situated on US north-western Pacific coast were not affected. Geophysicists at the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colorado, put the quake's epicentre some 30 miles (50 km) southwest of Seattle, and 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Olympia along the coast of Puget Sound.

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